AGA Draft Comments on the DOE Notification of Proposed Interpretive Rule (NPIR) and Request for Comment (RFC) to Eliminate Separate Product Classes for Non-Condensing and Condensing Vented Gas Appliances —- Comments Requested by October 2nd Please
Recall that on August 27th, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Federal Register notice of a proposed interpretive rule pertaining to performance-related features of certain appliances. As background on the issue, on January 15, 2021, DOE published a final interpretive rule in the Federal Register determining that, in the context of residential gas furnaces, commercial gas water heaters, and similarly-situated products or equipment, use of non-condensing technology (and associated venting) constitutes a performance-related “feature” under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), that cannot be eliminated through adoption of an energy conservation standard. This interpretation was as a result of a petition filed by the gas industry including AGA, American Public Gas Association (APGA), Spire Inc., etc., and was a very positive finding in support of assisting in keeping, cost effective natural gas furnaces, water heaters, and other types of vented gas appliances available for consumers. The interpretation basically established separate product classes for residential and commercial vented gas furnaces and commercial water heaters into non-condensing types and condensing types. As previously reported in BECS Update on Codes and Standards, DOE stated that it “deems prudent to revisit its interpretation” but provides no request by anyone or organization to revise the interpretation. DOE went on to state that “for the reasons stated in this document, DOE proposes to return to its previous and long-standing interpretation (in effect prior to the January 15, 2021 final interpretive rule), under which the technology used to supply heated air or hot water is not a performance-related “feature” that provides a distinct consumer utility under EPCA”. DOE requested comments on its proposed interpretation and reports that once they arrive at a final interpretation, they plan to again “evaluate whether amended energy conservation standards would result in significant savings of energy, be technologically feasible, and be economically justified, consistent with its interpretation.” (As a follow up to last week’s report on the request of DOE for a 60 day extension on the DOE notification of proposed interpretive rule (NPIR) to eliminate separate product classes for non-condensing and condensing vented gas appliance, today, the DOE issued a Federal Register Notice for 15 day extension to the AGA, the American Public Gas Association, National Propane Gas Association and Spire Inc. with a new deadline of October 12, 2021 deadline.)
In response to the Department of Energy (DOE) NPIR and RFC to eliminate separate product classes for non-condensing and condensing vented gas appliances, attached is the initial draft of AGA’s comments that we are requesting BECS members to review and provide feedback to us by October 2nd. Our arguments to reject the DOE proposal are based on federal energy legislation provisions particularly related to DOE not being able to implement appliance efficiency rulemakings that eliminate useful and cost effect gas appliances, encouraging fuel switching (natural gas to electric appliances), etc. The draft is marked privileged and confidential, therefore, please do not circulate it outside your organizations.
State Codes Activity Update.
Attached is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards. Please review the update and determine if there are state code activities that impact your service territory or organization.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on any of these items.