AGA, Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) and the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) File Joint 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.
On Tuesday, October 12th, AGA, NGSA and the COC filed timely, joint 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 as appliances.   As additional 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 because 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 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.”
In the joint filing, 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.  We want to thank BECS committee members who provided input and recommendations on the draft and will provide DOE’s response on this issue when available.
ICC 2021 Group A Public Comment Hearing Results Now Available and  Governmental Consensus Vote Open October 15th-November 1st.
The 2021 Group A Public Comment Hearing results from the Public Comment Hearings held in Pittsburgh, PA in September are now available. Of importance to the gas industry, proposals to the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) were favorable except for FG2-21 that AGA proposed to delete a prohibition of below grade penetration of homes and businesses that was approved by the IFGC Committee but was disapproved at the Public Comment Hearing. There is an opportunity to eliminate the prohibition if enough votes to approve FG2-21 are filled online during the Governmental Consensus Voting (GCV) and we are encouraging all eligible voters ( only governmental members, such as employees of local and state governments) can vote in the online voting process). BECS members are encouraged to reach out to eligible voters in your service territory to vote online in support of FG2-21.  The AGA proposal to the International Plumbing Code in P9-21 to require tracer wire over plastic sewer piping to minimize counter boring issues was approved at the PCH but as with the Support for FG2-21, BECS members are encouraged to reach out to eligible voters to file online support for this proposal. It’s possible that online votes can reverse the approval of this proposal and that would be unfortunate. 
Click here for all the results.
New Report Confirms Safety of Gas Cooking in California Homes and Businesses.
In an October 13th news release from the California Restaurant Association (CRA), the results of a new analysis conducted by the Catalyst Environmental Solutions for CRA, reported that “Cooking using natural gas is safe”.  The News Release states “Emissions from cooking using natural gas do not represent a health risk and there is no significant difference between cooking with natural gas and electric stoves in terms of indoor air quality, according to a new report released by researchers at Catalyst Environmental Solutions. The report details how a 2020 study from researchers at UCLA inflated the risk of using gas stoves and other appliances through incorrect and misleading comparisons of emissions to established air quality standards.”
Key findings from the analysis include:

  • The UCLA study’s findings were the result of incorrect comparisons with state and federal air quality standards. Using the same data, Catalyst’s report finds the UCLA study should have concluded that there are no significant adverse health impacts from gas appliances.
  • The UCLA report cites, but does not acknowledge, several references that conclude that indoor air quality is influenced more by the act of cooking than whether a natural gas or electric device is used.
  • In advocating for desired policy outcomes, the UCLA study does not consider the costly consequences of replacing natural gas with all-electric.
  • The results of the UCLA report depend upon a series of assumptions, with many unsupported by previous studies.
  • Many of the statements made in the UCLA study are not supported by the data provided or the references cited.

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.