Is HR 8 a Comprehensive Energy Bill?

Energy Bill a ‘Mixed Bag’ for HVAC

ACHR News, January 11, 2016. Image credit: InspiredImages

On Dec. 3, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive 275-page energy bill that aims to modernize the country’s energy infrastructure, bolster the energy and manufacturing workforce, increase America’s energy security and diplomacy, and promote energy efficiency and government accountability. The bill — HR 8: North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 — was received in the U.S. Senate on Dec. 7 and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

While HR 8 does contain some appealing provisions for HVACR industry stakeholders, including a fix for the contentious 92 percent AFUE proposed furnace rule, many stakeholders are more concerned about language in the bill that threatens to reduce the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) role in helping to create and promote model building energy codes across the U.S.

For many HVACR industry stakeholders, the sticking point keeping them from supporting the bill is the language governing the DOE’s role in creating and promoting model building energy codes. Essentially, if the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law without changes to the section in question, the DOE would be stripped of its ability to “promote or discourage the adoption of a particular building energy code, code provision, or energy savings target to a state or Indian tribe.”

That is a major problem and a big step backward for energy efficiency in the built environment, said ASHRAE president-elect Tim Wentz. ASHRAE and the International Code Council (ICC) rely on the DOE to not only provide input during the code-development process, but also to promote adoption and implementation of the latest model building energy codes nationwide.

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