Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedures for Consumer Warm Air Furnaces; Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking, 52422-52429 [2021-19813]

Download as PDF 52422 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules TABLE 2—U.S. MILK PRODUCTION BY REGION AND PROPOSED NUMBER OF BOARD SEATS Milk production (mil. lbs.) Proposed regions and states Percentage of total milk production Proposed number of board seats 1. Alaska, Oregon, Washington ................................................................................................... 2. California, Hawaii ..................................................................................................................... 3. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming .......................................................... 4. Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas ............................................................... 5. Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota ................................................................................ 6. Wisconsin ................................................................................................................................ 7. Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska ............................................................................................ 8. Idaho ........................................................................................................................................ 9. Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia ................................................................................... 10. Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia .................................................. 11. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania .................................................................. 12. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont 9,378.2 40,565.9 13,005.6 26,654.0 13,067.0 30,601.0 9,548.0 15,631.0 20,973.0 4.3 18.6 6.0 12.2 6.0 14.0 4.4 7.2 9.6 2 7 2 4 2 5 2 3 3 8,528.0 11,121.7 19,308.6 3.9 5.1 8.8 1 2 3 Total: ..................................................................................................................................... 218,382.0 100 36 Source: USDA NASS Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2019 Summary. The Dairy Board unanimously approved the proposal to change the number of seats in two of the 12 geographic regions. AMS independently reviewed the Dairy Board’s reapportionment proposal and concluded that data from USDA’s NASS Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2019 Summary supports the proposed changes. During AMS’s independent analysis, AMS also determined that the Dairy Board fulfilled the Dairy Order’s requirement to conduct an evaluation and recommended changes to the Secretary in order to best reflect the geographic distribution of milk production volume in the United States. Therefore, after AMS’s evaluation of the Dairy reapportionment proposal, AMS agrees that the proposed membership change would better reflect the geographic distribution of milk production volume in the United States. A 30-day comment period is provided for interested persons to comment on this proposed rule. § 1150.131 Establishment and membership. List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1150 [EERE–2018–BT–PET–0017] lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1150 continues to read as follows: 2. In § 1150.131, revise paragraphs (b)(8) and (10) to read as follows: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 [FR Doc. 2021–20379 Filed 9–20–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 10 CFR Part 430 Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy. ACTION: Final denial of petition for rulemaking. AGENCY: PART 1150—DAIRY PROMOTION PROGRAM ■ Erin Morris, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedures for Consumer Warm Air Furnaces; Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking For the reasons set forth in the preamble, AMS proposes to amend 7 CFR part 1150 as follows: Authority: 7 U.S.C. 4501–4514 and 7 U.S.C. 7401 * * * * (b) * * * (8) Three members from region number eight comprised of the following State: Idaho. * * * * * (10) One member from region number ten comprised of the following States: Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. * * * * * RIN 1904–AE37 Dairy Products, Milk, Promotion, Research. ■ * This document announces and provides the reasoning for the U.S. Department of Energy’s final denial of a petition filed by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 requesting that DOE initiate a noticeand-comment rulemaking to develop a new combined test procedure for consumer furnaces and furnace fans, which would replace the two currently required performance metrics for furnaces and the one performance metric for furnace fans with a single new metric called ‘‘AFUE2.’’ DATES: This final denial of petition for rulemaking is applicable September 21, 2021. ADDRESSES: The petition and comments filed in accordance with the timelines set forth in the prior Federal Register notice have been entered into docket number EERE–2018–BT–PET–0017. The docket is available for review at www.regulations.gov. For further information on how to review the docket, contact the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program staff at (202) 287–1445 or by email: ApplianceStandardsQuestions@ ee.doe.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Catherine Rivest, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Office, EE–5B, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585–0121. Telephone: (202) 586– 7335. Email: ApplianceStandards Questions@ee.doe.gov. Mr. Eric Stas, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585–0103. Telephone: (202) 586–5827. Email: Eric.Stas@hq.doe.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Summary of Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking II. Background and Authority E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 III. AHRI’s Petition for Rulemaking Summary and Comments IV. DOE Analysis and Discussion V. Denial of Petition VI. Approval of the Office of the Secretary I. Summary of Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking This document denies a petition received by the U.S. Department of Energy (‘‘DOE’’) from the AirConditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (‘‘AHRI’’) requesting that DOE initiate a rulemaking to develop a new combined test procedure addressing covered consumer furnaces and furnace fans, which would replace the two currently required performance metrics for furnaces (i.e., annual fuel utilization efficiency (‘‘AFUE’’) and standby mode/ off mode energy consumption (PW,SB/ PW,OFF)) and the one performance metric for furnace fans (i.e., fan efficiency ratio (‘‘FER’’)) with a single new metric called ‘‘AFUE2.’’ AHRI asserted that a single performance metric would reduce regulatory burden for furnace manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning regulatory review schedules and promote design flexibility and product innovation. DOE has determined that a combined test procedure and energy conservation standard for consumer furnaces and furnace fans would enable an increase in the maximum allowable energy use and/or minimum required efficiency of furnaces and furnace fans, each a separate covered product. AHRI’s suggested unified metric would allow for trade-offs in energy use between the two separately regulated modes of furnace operation (i.e., active mode and standby mode/off mode) and furnaces fans. These tradeoffs in turn have the potential to allow for furnaces to consume more energy in active mode or standby mode/off mode than permitted under the active mode and standby/off mode standards, or for furnace fans to consume more energy than permitted under the current furnace fan standard. This is impermissible under the ‘‘antibacksliding’’ provision of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (‘‘EPCA’’),1 which prevents the Secretary from prescribing any amended standard that either increases the maximum allowable energy use or decreases the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)) DOE has also determined that a unified metric for consumer furnaces and furnace fans (using the proposed combined metric 1 All references to EPCA in this document refer to the statute as amended through the Energy Act of 2020, Public Law 116–260 (Dec. 27, 2020). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 AFUE2) would be contrary to DOE’s prior determination that it is technologically infeasible to integrate active mode and standby or off mode energy use for furnaces. Therefore, after carefully considering AHRI’s request, supporting materials accompanying the request, and submitted comments, DOE is declining to grant AHRI’s request for the reasons set forth in the following discussion. II. Background and Authority EPCA, as amended, among of things, authorizes DOE to regulate the energy efficiency of a number of consumer products and certain industrial equipment. (42 U.S.C. 6291–6317) Title III, Part B 2 of EPCA established the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which sets forth a variety of provisions designed to improve energy efficiency for certain types of consumer products. These products include consumer furnaces and furnace fans, the focus of this document. (42 U.S.C. 6292(a)(5); 42 U.S.C. 6295(f)(4)(D)) Under EPCA, DOE’s energy conservation program consists essentially of four parts: (1) Testing, (2) labeling, (3) Federal energy conservation standards, and (4) certification and enforcement procedures. Relevant provisions of EPCA specifically include definitions (42 U.S.C. 6291), test procedures (42 U.S.C. 6293), labeling provisions (42 U.S.C. 6294), energy conservation standards (42 U.S.C. 6295), and the authority to require information and reports from manufacturers (42 U.S.C. 6296). The Federal testing requirements consist of test procedures that manufacturers of covered products must use as the basis for: (1) Certifying to DOE that their products comply with the applicable energy conservation standards adopted pursuant to EPCA (42 U.S.C. 6295(s)), and (2) making representations about the efficiency of that product (42 U.S.C. 6293(c)). Similarly, DOE must use these test procedures to determine whether the product complies with relevant standards promulgated under EPCA. (42 U.S.C. 6295(s)) Under 42 U.S.C. 6293, EPCA sets forth the criteria and procedures DOE is required to follow when prescribing or amending test procedures for covered products. Specifically, EPCA requires that any test procedures prescribed or amended must be reasonably designed to produce test results which measure 2 For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, Part B was redesignated as Part A. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 52423 energy efficiency, energy use, or estimated annual operating cost of a covered product during a representative average use cycle or period of use and requires that test procedures not be unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)) The test procedures for consumer furnaces and furnace fans are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (‘‘CFR’’) at 10 CFR part 430. More specifically, the test procedure for furnaces is located at 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix N (‘‘Appendix N’’), Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Furnaces and Boilers. The test procedure for furnace fans is located at 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix AA (‘‘Appendix AA’’), Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Furnaces Fans. Relevant to this document, EPCA also requires DOE to follow specific statutory criteria for prescribing new or amended standards for covered products, including consumer furnaces and furnace fans. Any new or amended standard for a covered product must be designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that the Secretary of Energy determines is technologically feasible and economically justified. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(2)(A) and 42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(3)(B)) EPCA also contains what is known as an ‘‘anti-backsliding’’ provision, which prevents the Secretary from prescribing any amended standard that either increases the maximum allowable energy use or decreases the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)) Additionally, pursuant to the amendments to EPCA contained in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (‘‘EISA 2007’’), Public Law 110– 140, any final rule for new or amended energy conservation standards promulgated after July 1, 2010, is required to address standby mode and off mode energy use. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)) Specifically, when DOE adopts a standard for a covered product after that date, it must, if justified by the criteria for adoption of standards under EPCA (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)), incorporate standby mode and off mode energy use into a single standard, or, if that is not feasible, adopt a separate standard for such energy use for that product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)(A)–(B)) DOE has established energy conservation standards for furnace energy efficiency using the AFUE metric, which is the ratio of annual output energy to annual input energy. 10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(ii). DOE also separately established energy E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 52424 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules conservation standards for furnace standby mode and off mode electrical power consumption, PW,SB and PW,OFF, respectively, which account for all furnace electrical consumption in standby and off modes. 10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(iii). DOE has established an energy conservation standard for furnace fans using the FER metric, which is the ratio of the electrical energy consumption to airflow in watts per cubic feet per minute (CFM). 10 CFR 430.32(y). The FER metric measures performance during active mode when the fan is circulating air, but it does not include provisions for measuring standby mode and off mode energy consumption of furnace fans (although appendix AA includes a section reserved for future provisions to address standby mode and off mode energy use, if necessary). Instead, the standby mode and off mode energy consumption for furnace fans is addressed by the test procedures and metrics for consumer furnaces and residential central air conditioners and heat pumps, as these products operate in conjunction with furnace fans. See 78 FR 19606, 19619 (April 2, 2013). The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq., provides among other things, that ‘‘[e]ach agency shall give an interested person the right to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule.’’ (5 U.S.C. 553(e)) III. AHRI’s Petition for Rulemaking Summary and Comments On October 12, 2018, DOE received a petition from AHRI (‘‘AHRI Petition’’) asking DOE to initiate notice-andcomment rulemaking to develop a new test procedure for residential furnaces and furnace fans which would replace the two currently required performance metrics for furnaces (i.e., AFUE and PW,SB/PW,OFF) and the one performance metric for furnace fans (i.e., FER) with a single new metric (i.e., AFUE2).3 On November 14, 2018, DOE published a Notice of Petition for Rulemaking (‘‘2018 Notice of Petition for Rulemaking’’) announcing the receipt of the AHRI Petition and inviting interested parties to submit comments. 83 FR 56746. In the petition, AHRI suggested AFUE2 metric would account for furnace fuel, fan power, and standby mode and off mode power consumption, and the measured value would represent the sum of usable heat and fan benefit, divided by the total fuel and electricity consumed. (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 2) 4 AHRI asserted that transitioning to a single metric, such as AFUE2, would reduce regulatory burden on manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning regulatory review schedules, thereby promoting design flexibility and product innovation. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 4–5) The petitioner further asserted that consumers would also benefit by having a single, combined metric for product comparison purposes and by receiving some portion of anticipated cost savings, all of which could be achieved without sacrificing energy savings. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 5–6) The petition acknowledges that a combined metric would necessitate a translation of the existing energy conservation standards applicable to residential furnaces and furnace fans. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 6–7) Additionally, in a separate letter to DOE dated November 2, 2018, AHRI requested that DOE not enforce the reporting, certification and compliance obligations related to the furnace fan energy conservation standards pending consideration of their petition for rulemaking.5 (AHRI, No. 3 at pp. 1–2) In the 2018 Notice of Petition for Rulemaking, DOE invited interested parties to submit comments regarding the petition. 83 FR 56746, 56746 (Nov. 14, 2018). DOE received comments in response to the 2018 Notification of Petition for Rulemaking from the interested parties listed in Table II–1.6 In the following discussion, DOE addresses the relevant comments. TABLE II–1—WRITTEN COMMENTS RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO 2018 NOTIFICATION OF PETITION FOR RULEMAKING Commenter(s) Abbreviation Air-Conditioning Heating, and Refrigeration Institute ........................................................... Alliance to Save Energy ....................................................................................................... Appliance Standards Awareness Project, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and Natural Resources Defense Council. California Energy Commission ............................................................................................. Carrier Corporation ............................................................................................................... Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ..................................... Consumer Federation of America and National Consumer Law Center ............................. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club .......................................................................................... AHRI ......................... ASE ........................... Joint Commenters ..... Trade Association. Efficiency Organizations. Efficiency Organizations. CEC .......................... Carrier ....................... CT DEEP .................. Consumer Groups .... Earthjustice and the Sierra Club. Ingersoll Rand ........... Lennox ...................... A.O. Smith ................ NEMA ........................ National Grid ............. NRDC ........................ NYSERDA ................. NEEP ........................ NEEA ........................ NPCC ........................ State Agency. Manufacturer. State Agency. Consumer Organizations. Efficiency Organizations. lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Ingersoll Rand ...................................................................................................................... Lennox International ............................................................................................................. Lochinvar/A.O. Smith Corporation ........................................................................................ National Electric Manufacturers Association ........................................................................ National Grid ......................................................................................................................... Natural Resources Defense Council .................................................................................... New York State Energy Research and Development Authority .......................................... Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership ............................................................................. Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance ................................................................................... Northwest Power and Conservation Council ....................................................................... 3 The AHRI Petition is available in the docket at www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EERE-2018-BTPET-0017-0002. The petition did not identify any of the information contained therein as confidential business information. 4 The parenthetical reference provides a reference for information located in the docket for the petition for rulemaking. (Docket No. EERE–2018– BT–PET–0017, which is maintained at www.regulations.gov). The references are arranged as follows: (Commenter name, comment docket ID number, page of that document). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 5 On November 2, 2018, DOE issued an enforcement policy stating that it would not enforce the testing, certification, and standards requirements for furnace fans while DOE considered the 2018 Petition for Rulemaking. In response to the policy statement DOE received comments from a wide variety of parties as well as a letter from AHRI requesting that DOE rescind the enforcement policy. On February 11, 2019, DOE rescinded the November 2, 2018 policy statement. The request that DOE not enforce the furnace fan energy conservation pending consideration of the PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Commenter type Manufacturer. Manufacturer. Manufacturer. Trade Association. Utilities. Efficiency Organizations. State Agency. Efficiency Organizations. Efficiency Organizations. Utilities. petition for rulemaking is not considered further in this document. The policy statement and rescission are available at www.energy.gov/gc/downloads/ furnace-fan-enforcement-policy. 6 Stakeholders’ comments can be accessed in the docket at www.regulations.gov/docket/EERE-2018BT-PET-0017. DOE also received several nonsubstantive comments or comments not relevant to the petition, which are not included in the table. E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules 52425 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 TABLE II–1—WRITTEN COMMENTS RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO 2018 NOTIFICATION OF PETITION FOR RULEMAKING— Continued Commenter(s) Abbreviation Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric (collectively the California Investor-Owned Utilities). Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors ................................................................................ Regal Beloit America, Inc ..................................................................................................... Rheem Manufacturing Company .......................................................................................... CA IOUs .................... Utilities. PHCC ........................ Regal Beloit .............. Rheem ...................... Trade Association. Manufacturer. Manufacturer. In general overview, furnace manufacturers supported the AHRI petition, stating that a combined metric would lead to benefits for both manufacturers and/or consumers. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 1–5; Carrier, No. 33 at pp. 1, 3–4; Rheem, No. 45 at pp. 1–2; Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1) More specifically, manufacturers referenced the fact that there are currently three different energy conservation standards (and three different test procedures) related to consumer furnace efficiency (i.e., AFUE, FER, and standby mode/off mode power consumption) and that each of these regulations is subject to separate regulatory review schedules. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3–4; Rheem, No. 45 at pp. 1–2) Lennox further stated that having so many separate regulatory schedules places manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and DOE in a constant state of change and adjustment. Lennox stated that every time DOE amends standards, manufacturers must redesign equipment, make capital investments to update manufacturing facilities, republish marketing literature, and educate distributors, contractors, and consumers about the changes. Lennox also asserted that the costs associated with these activities are ultimately passed on to consumers. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3–5) Manufacturers stated that adopting the AFUE2 metric, consolidating certification and testing requirements, and streamlining rulemaking and redesign cycles could allow for more effective utilization of manufacturer resources by reducing this regulatory burden. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3–4; Carrier, No. 33 at p. 3; Rheem, No. 45 at p. 1; Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1) Manufacturers also generally asserted that the simplified ratings could reduce design constraints or otherwise increase opportunities for innovation. (Carrier, No. 33 at p. 3; Rheem, No. 45 at p. 2; Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1) Lennox suggested that setting requirements for individual furnace components restricts design choices between various aspects of a residential furnace. Lennox stated that the AFUE2 test method would promote innovation by enabling manufacturers to develop the most VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 effective solution for overall product efficiency at the lowest cost. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 5) In its petition, AHRI estimated that the total reduction in regulatory burden resulting from implementation of AFUE2 would save manufacturers more than $250 million over thirty years. (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 4) 7 Manufacturers also stated that a combined metric would make it easier for consumers to compare the overall efficiencies of furnace models. (Carrier, No. 33 at pp. 3–4; Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3, 4) More specifically, Lennox suggested that consumers (and selling contractors) often do not understand that the energy consumption associated with the FER metric generally is less than 5 percent of the total energy consumed in the operation of a product, or that standby mode represents a miniscule amount of energy use compared to the amount of energy used to create heat via combustion. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 3) Lennox also commented that the AFUE2 metric would also have the benefit of reducing the need for government intervention and saving government resources by reducing the quantity of regulations. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 2, 5) Finally, several furnace manufacturers commented that although a crosswalk has not yet been completed, further work in this area should continue and suggested that revised energy efficiency standards (in terms of AFUE2) could reflect the overall system energy efficiency already required by the AFUE, PWSB and PWOFF, and FER metrics. (Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1; Rheem, No. 45 at p. 2; Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 2, 4) In contrast, efficiency organizations, State agencies, and utilities generally opposed the petition, asserting that the combined metric would obscure the efficiencies of separately regulated elements (which often use different energy sources) and could potentially lead to backsliding. These commenters also asserted that a combined metric 7 AHRI’s calculations of burden reduction are included in Exhibit 3, which was submitted with the original petition and can be found at www.regulations.gov/document/EERE-2018-BTPET-0017-0002. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Commenter type could reduce the amount of future energy savings potential. (NEEA, No. 35 at pp. 1, 4; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 1–3; CEC, No. 38 at pp. 1–6; Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, No. 31 at pp. 1, 3–4; NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 1, 4– 5; NYSERDA, No. 30 at pp. 1–2; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1–4; NEEP, No. 36 at p. 1; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1; NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 5–8) Consumer Groups stated that AHRI’s petition relies on the assumption that a crosswalk can be generated to translate the three current standards to a single standard that relies on AFUE2 without: (a) Diminishing the energy savings that would otherwise be achieved, (b) harming consumers, or (c) violating EPCA. These commenters stated that it is unproven that such a crosswalk is possible and further argued that such approach would not be permissible under EPCA. (Consumer Groups, No. 31 at pp. 2–4) The Joint Commenters stated that AHRI’s requested change to the test procedures (and subsequent changes to the energy conservation standards), if adopted by DOE, would violate the specific directive from EPCA that requires DOE to set air circulation efficiency standards; illegally combine the required air circulation standard with a standards based on fuel use; improperly apply the EPCA provision regarding adjustment to standards based on test procedure changes to an amendment merging standards; 8 and adopt an approach for standby mode and off mode power consumption that DOE has previously found is not technically feasible. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at p. 7) Earthjustice and the Sierra Club and NRDC similarly stated 8 DOE understands the Joint Commenters to be referencing 42 U.S.C. 6293(e), which provides that in the case of any amended test procedure, the Secretary shall determine to what extent, if any, the proposed test procedure would alter the measured energy efficiency, measured energy use, or measured water use of any covered product as determined under the existing test procedure and that if the Secretary determines that the amended test procedure will alter the measured efficiency or measured use, the Secretary shall amend the applicable energy conservation standard as prescribed by certain provisions specified in 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) during the rulemaking carried out with respect to such test procedure. E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 52426 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules that DOE does not have authority under EPCA to crosswalk and combine multiple metrics into a single combined metric, or the authority to combine the standby mode and off mode power consumption metrics with active mode energy consumption for furnaces. (Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 4–6; NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 3–6) Earthjustice and the Sierra Club also stated that DOE does not have authority under EPCA to combine the electrical energy consumption of furnace fans into the fuel efficiency standards for furnaces. (Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 2–3) Consumer Groups stated that AHRI’s position that 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) provides the authority for DOE to develop an AFUE2 standard to replace the three current standards is in error because AHRI is not proposing to amend an existing test procedure (which is what 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) addresses), but rather to eliminate existing test procedures and replace them with an entirely new test procedure and associated standards. (Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 6) Multiple commenters also asserted that under the combined metric, lessefficient furnace fans could be used and that this would reduce the potential for future energy savings or enable the use of less-efficient furnace fans than are currently allowed. (NEEP, No. 36 at p. 1; CEC, No. 38 at pp. 3–4; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1; NYSERDA, No. 30 at pp. 1– 2; National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1–4; NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 5–8; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at pp. 3–4; NPCC, No. 29 at p. 2; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2–3, 7; Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 3–4) Regal Beloit commented that the AFUE2 test procedure could potentially result in an increase in the maximum allowable energy use from furnace fans because the AFUE2 test procedure would change certain definitions and/or values of certain variables that could lead to an increase in the maximum allowable energy use of furnace fans. (Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4) NEEP and CT DEEP commented that combining efficiency standards could present new challenges for energy efficiency efforts that use Federal standards in their calculations. (NEEP, No. 36 at p. 1; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1) PHCC supported the effort to consolidate metrics and streamline the regulatory process (which it asserted would lead to reduced costs for consumers), but also expressed concerns that the proposal should undergo further review to ensure that no backsliding could occur. (PHCC, No. 32 at pp. 1–2) NEMA supported the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 initiative to reduce regulatory burden by consolidating the three existing test procedures into a single metric for furnaces, but expressed concerns that the proposal outlined in the AHRI Petition would not comply with statutory requirements set forth in EPCA (specifically referencing the antibacksliding provision at 42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)). NEMA encouraged DOE to deny AHRI’s petition but encouraged AHRI to reformulate its proposed metric to ensure compliance with EPCA. (NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 2–8) Several commenters expressed concern that the AFUE2 metric could confuse, mislead, or otherwise negatively impact consumers by masking the operating costs of different elements and products (with different energy sources), or lead to increased consumer costs. (NEEA, No. 35 at pp. 1– 4; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 1, 4, 8; NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 2, 8; NYSERDA, No. 30 at pp. 1–2; National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1, 5–6; Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 3; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at pp. 4–5) Similarly, ASE commented that the use of site-energy equivalents (rather than primary energy or average energy costs) to combine electricity and natural gas consumption into a single metric could lead to backsliding and could significantly misrepresent the relative energy operating costs to homeowners and consumers. (ASE, No. 40 at p. 2) NYSERDA stated that AFUE2 would incentivize manufacturers to optimize their designs to reduce site energy use, rather than consumer costs or total energy use. (NYSERDA, No. 30 at p. 2) National Grid and the CA IOUs stated that combining fuel sources into one metric creates confusion for utilities when estimating fuel savings associated with different products, which could make it difficult to develop incentive programs. (National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1, 5–6) The CA IOUs suggested that a shift to AFUE2 would result in higher peak loads for electric utilities (which these commenters argued could in turn lead to higher utility bills for customers) because the saturation of efficient furnace fans and low standby loss units will decrease (as fan/electrical efficiency has a very limited impact on AFUE2 ratings). (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 7–8) Regal Beloit added that maintaining the FER metric would protect consumer choice by driving the use of high-efficiency motors in all furnace types. (Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4) Regarding manufacturer burden, the Joint Commenters suggested that moving forward with the AFUE2 metric PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 could undermine regulatory predictability because it would strand the investments that furnace fan component manufacturers and furnace manufacturers have already made towards FER compliance. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 6–7) NEEP asserted that the AFUE2 petition and enforcement policy would create regulatory uncertainty and undue hardship for motor manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and customers who are unclear about which furnaces will be compliant with the new standards. (NEEP, No. 36 at p. 1) NEEA and the Joint Commenters also suggested that AHRI’s proposal would be damaging to manufacturers and their component and assembly suppliers, who have already invested in the design and production of products that meet the most recent efficiency standards. (NEEA, No. 35 at p. 3; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2, 6–7) The CA IOUs also commented that there is no need for ‘‘trade-offs’’ between furnace fan and furnace efficiency, asserting that DOE has shown efficiency improvements to each rating to be costeffective on their own. (CA IOUs, No. 27 at p. 7) Consumer Groups remarked that while reductions in regulatory burden in the abstract are desirable, nothing in EPCA establishes ‘‘reducing regulatory burden’’ as a statutory goal, and according to these commenters, the contents of the AHRI petition violate explicit provisions of that statutory scheme. Specifically, the Consumer Groups provided several citations, which they argue require DOE to adopt and enforce standards for furnaces, including 42 U.S.C. 6291(23) (defining ‘‘furnace’’), 42 U.S.C. 6291(22) (setting ‘‘annual fuel utilization efficiency’’ as the ‘‘efficiency descriptor’’ for ‘‘furnaces’’), 42 U.S.C 6295(f)(1) (setting initial AFUE standards for furnaces), 42 U.S.C. 6295(f)(4)(D) (directing DOE to set standards for furnace fans), and 42 U.S.C. 6295(gg) (directing DOE to set standards for furnace standby mode and off mode energy use). (Consumer Groups, No. 31 at pp. 2–4) NEEA disagreed with AHRI’s claim that innovation would increase as a result of adoption the AFUE2 metric and suggested that innovation would actually decrease because manufacturers often improve product features unrelated to efficiency at the same time that they redesign products to meet new energy efficiency requirements. (NEEA, No. 35 at p. 2) Similarly, the Joint Commenters commented that AFUE2 would allow manufacturers to avoid innovating air movement designs and suggested that increases in standards E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules drive innovation. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at p. 9) The Joint Commenters argued that AHRI’s claim of manufacturer cost savings is overstated and appears to result from the assumption that furnace fan and standby mode and off mode efficiency improvements would not be required, which the commenters argued is not realistic since future standards must maximize technologically feasible and economically justified efficiency improvements. These commenters also argued that the assumption by AHRI that all future standards will have the same conversion costs as the first standard is similarly unrealistic, because future increases to the furnace fan standards will not be as far-reaching as the initial standards. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at p. 7) Several commenters, including manufacturers, utilities, and efficiency organizations, did come together in support of aligning future rulemakings or compliance timelines (including AFUE, FER, and PWSB and PWOFF test procedures and standards) to reduce manufacturer burden. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 2, 5–6; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 1; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2, 7; CEC, No. 38 at p. 5; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 8–9; Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 3; NEMA, No. 26 at p. 8; NEEA, No. 35 at p. 2) Lennox opined that EPCA (specifically, 42 U.S.C. 6295(m)(4)(B)) precludes DOE from imposing AFUE and FER standards in an uncoordinated manner within a six-year period. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 6) Several commenters stated that the AFUE2 metric was developed without significant or open stakeholder input and/or argued that further review would be required before it could be adopted. (NEEP, No. 36 at pp. 1–2; CT DEEP, No. 46 at pp. 1–2; NYSERDA, No. 30 at p. 2; National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4) Along these lines, ASE suggested that a single metric is logical and intuitive for consumers and could be investigated in a future rulemaking to determine whether a single metric for furnaces is feasible, capable of facilitating increased efficiency, and in the best interests of homeowners and consumers. However, ASE also suggested that DOE should conduct a thorough analysis of the possibility of a new test procedure for the next energy conservation standard for furnaces to avoid the need for a crosswalk and prevent the possibility of backsliding. (ASE, No. 40 at p. 2) Similarly, NPCC supported the concept of a single metric because it could be a simpler metric for consumers, could reduce the number of test procedures and energy conservation standards VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 rulemakings for DOE and industry, and could permit more flexible innovation by manufacturers. However, NPCC opposed the petition as written, asserting that the specific AFUE2 approach in the petition would likely reduce or eliminate the impact of the furnace fan standards. (NPCC, No. 29 at p. 2) NRDC and the CA IOUs specifically opposed the AFUE2 test procedure’s move to eliminate cyclic testing, asserting that this would remove the incentives for manufacturers to reduce cycling losses. (NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 6– 7; CA IOUs, No. 27 at p. 9) NRDC also asserted that elimination of cyclic testing in the requested test procedure and its modification of the assumed operating hours that go into calculating AFUE are attempts to reopen issues that have already been publicly discussed and decided by DOE. (NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 6–7) NEMA recommended that in any future standard based on AFUE2, DOE should require that the portion of the AFUE2 metric that accounts for furnace electrical consumption be as stringent or more stringent than the currently established FER standards. NEMA stated that this approach would require the differences in AHRI’s proposed AFUE2 formula and DOE’s FER formula (e.g., use of different operating hours) to be reconciled. (NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 6– 8) A.O. Smith commented that the AFUE2 metric should not be applied to boilers based on the commenter’s understanding of the scope of the petitioners’ request and the product distinctions between a forced-air furnace and consumer boiler. A.O. Smith expressed concerns with several aspects of the AFUE2 metric including: (1) Inclusion of source-based power generation differences between gas and electricity in the metric; (2) the technical feasibility of integrating standby mode and off mode consumption with fossil-fuel consumption for consumer boilers; and (3) the absence of an affirmative indicator of intent to include consumer boilers in the AFUE2 metric. (A.O. Smith, No. 44 at pp. 1–2) As explained in the following section, DOE carefully considered the relevant comments received in evaluating whether to initiate a rulemaking to propose adoption of the AFUE2 metric as requested by AHRI in its petition for rulemaking. DOE’s response to these comments and its decision on the AHRI Petition are discussed in the balance of this document. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 52427 IV. DOE Analysis and Discussion DOE first considered whether EPCA provides authority to adopt a single metric for furnaces and furnace fans, as requested by AHRI in their Petition for Rulemaking. As discussed, EPCA requires that any test procedures prescribed or amended must be reasonably designed to produce test results which measure energy efficiency or energy use of a covered product during a representative average use cycle or period of use, as determined by the Secretary, and shall not be unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)) While the AHRI petition suggests that standards relying on AFUE2 could be established through a ‘‘crosswalk’’ as part of the test procedure rulemaking under 42 U.S.C. 6293(e), that provision does not affect the Secretary’s obligation to issue final rules as described in 42 U.S.C. 6295. (42 U.S.C. 6293(e)(4)) Among the obligations under 42 U.S.C. 6295, EPCA requires that any new or amended energy conservation standard prescribed by the Secretary for any type (or class) of covered product must be designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency, which the Secretary determines is technologically feasible and economically justified. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(2)(A)) DOE must also generally incorporate standby mode and off mode energy use into a single standard, or, if that is not feasible, adopt a separate standard for such energy use for that product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)(A)–(B)) Also as discussed, EPCA contains what is known as an ‘‘anti-backsliding’’ provision, which prevents the Secretary from prescribing any amended standard that either increases the maximum allowable energy use or decreases the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)) In the past, DOE has determined furnaces and furnace fans to be separate covered products, each subject to the relevant test procedure and energy conservation standard provisions under EPCA. 79 FR 38130, 38175 (July 3, 2014). EPCA explicitly includes furnaces in the list of covered products. (42 U.S.C. 6292(a)(5)) Subject to certain criteria and conditions, EPCA requires DOE to consider and establish energy conservation standards for ‘‘electricity used for purposes of circulating air through duct work’’ (which DOE has defined as residential ‘‘furnace fans’’ at 10 CFR 430.2)). (42 U.S.C. 6295(f)(4)(D)) Accordingly, DOE has established energy conservation standards at 10 CFR 430.32(y) for furnace fans as covered products through a final rule published E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 52428 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules in the Federal Register on July 3, 2014. 79 FR 38130. Separately, DOE has established an energy conservation standard for furnaces governing the energy efficiency of active mode (10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(ii)) and also established standards for furnace standby mode and off mode electrical power consumption (10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(iii)). DOE first evaluated whether it would be possible to establish a standard in terms of AFUE2 without increasing the maximum allowable energy use or decreasing the minimum required efficiency of furnaces (excluding during standby mode and off mode operation) and/or furnace fans (i.e., whether a standard could be prescribed in terms of AFUE2 without violating EPCA’s antibacksliding provision). A combined metric (i.e., AFUE2) for furnaces and furnace fans would reflect the total energy consumption from both the furnace and furnace fan. In its petition, AHRI described the concept of the AFUE2 metric as follows: ‘‘The AFUE2 metric accounts for furnace fuel, fan power, and stand-by and off-mode power consumption. The measured value represents the sum of usable heat and fan benefit, divided by the total fuel and electricity consumed.’’ (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 2) As a result of combining the various metrics into a single metric, manufacturers would be able to make tradeoffs between the efficiencies of the various covered products (e.g., using a less-efficient fan while improving the efficiency of fuel consumption), which could lead to the efficiencies of either covered product (i.e., either the furnace or furnace fan) decreasing below the currently applicable energy conservation standard. As an example, if a single energy conservation standard were established for furnaces and furnace fans using the AFUE2 metric that is of equivalent stringency to the current minimum AFUE and maximum standby mode and off mode power consumption levels required for furnaces, and the maximum FER levels allowed for furnace fans, then a furnace paired with a highly efficient furnace fan could potentially have a fuel consumption efficiency (i.e., AFUE) less than what is currently required under the AFUE standards (e.g., less than 80 percent AFUE for nonweatherized gas furnaces), resulting in backsliding for the furnace efficiency as compared to the existing AFUE standard. Similarly, an AFUE2 standard could be met by pairing a furnace with a high AFUE (e.g., over 90 percent) with an inefficient furnace fan that that would not separately meet the existing FER requirement. Furnaces with high VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 AFUE ratings could also potentially meet AFUE2 standards despite having standby mode and/or off mode power consumption that are not compliant with current requirements. The CA IOUs provided test data for two units tested to the AFUE, FER, and AFUE2 test procedures that illustrated the risk of backsliding. The two units tested were both non-weatherized gas furnaces, and both had 80-percent AFUE ratings, input capacities of 60,000 Btu/h, and maximum blower rated airflows of 1,200 CFM. One unit (referred to as unit under test (‘‘UUT’’)– 01) had a permanent split capacitor blower motor and an FER rating of 359 Watts per 1,000 cfm (which is noncompliant with the existing standard for furnace fans at 10 CFR 430.32(y)). The other unit (UUT–02) had a blower with a multi-speed electrically commutated motor and an FER rating of 233 Watts per 1,000 cfm (which is compliant with the existing standard for furnace fans at 10 CFR 430.32(y)). Despite the significant differences in fan motor efficiencies, the AFUE2 ratings were only 1.3 percent different.9 (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1–3) These test results illustrate how efficiency improvements associated with a high-fuel-efficiency furnace could offset efficiency decreases from using a low-efficiency furnace fan at a given AFUE2 rating (i.e., illustrating how under a unified metric, implementing a high-efficiency furnace technology could enable backsliding of furnace fan energy efficiency). Thus, if DOE were to adjust its existing furnaces energy conservation standards to now also capture fan energy use, it would only impact minimally compliant products and arguably grant an improper reprieve to products at the higher end of the efficiency marketplace. Additionally, as was also discussed by the CA IOUs, the data provided by AHRI in its AFUE2 Petition Exhibit 2 (Example Calculations) 10 suggests that units with a wide range of FER ratings (including those that are compliant with the current FER requirements and those that are not) can have the same AFUE2 ratings. (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 3–4) As a result of these findings, DOE has determined that adopting a single AFUE2 metric would violate EPCA’s anti-backsliding 9 The CA IOUs did not measure jacket losses during testing and used the default value of 1 percent, as is allowed by the furnace test procedure at Appendix N if a jacket lost test is not conducted. The CA IOUs also estimated the AFUE2 results with a jacket loss factor of 0.3 percent, and the difference in ratings between UUT–01 and UUT–02 in that case was 1.2 percent. 10 The original data provided by AHRI can be found at www.regulations.gov/document/EERE2018-BT-PET-0017-0002 as Exhibit 2. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 provisions because it would allow decreases in the energy efficiency of individual covered products. In evaluating the AHRI petition, DOE also separately sought to determine whether it would be feasible to integrate the active mode energy use and standby mode and off mode power consumption into an integrated metric. DOE has previously determined in a final rule published in the Federal Register that it is not feasible to establish an energy conservation standard for furnaces that integrates electrical standby mode and off mode energy use. 75 FR 64621, 64623 (Oct. 20, 2010; ‘‘October 2010 final rule’’). In the October 2010 final rule, DOE concluded that it would not be technically feasible to develop an integrated metric combining electrical standby mode and off mode energy consumption into the calculation of overall annual energy consumption of those products because the standby mode and off mode energy usage, when measured, is essentially lost in practical terms due to the fact that manufacturers’ ratings of AFUE are presented to the nearest whole number. Id. Although furnace ratings are now reported to the tenth place for compliance certification purposes (see 10 CFR 429.18(a)(2)(vii)), standby mode and off mode power consumption is substantially less than active mode power consumption and may not be apparent in the measured energy use of a furnace, and it does not change the fact that DOE’s furnace energy conservation standards using the AFUE metric continue to be set at the nearest whole number. As such, a combined metric would likely not provide consumers any meaningful information as to the standby mode and off mode energy use of a furnace and may disincentivize manufacturers from making improvements to standby mode and off mode furnace efficiency. DOE estimates that the electrical standby mode and off mode power consumption typically make up less than one percent of the combined furnace and furnace fan energy consumption, meaning that small increases in standby mode and off mode consumption would have little bearing on the AFUE2 rating. In its review of data provided by AHRI as part of its petition, DOE noted that a hypothetical doubling of the standby mode power consumption would result in a change of the AFUE2 result of less than half of one percent for each unit in the dataset. The AHRI petition and accompanying data do not support DOE changing its prior determination that it is not be technically feasible to combine standby and off mode power consumption into a combined metric, and therefore, the E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 180 / Tuesday, September 21, 2021 / Proposed Rules lotter on DSK11XQN23PROD with PROPOSALS1 Department continues to conclude that these standards should remain separate. As discussed previously, NEMA suggested that to prevent backsliding, in conjunction with a combined metric, DOE could create a separate requirement for the efficiency of the electrical component. (NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 6–8) For example, under such an approach, DOE would establish a combined metric (e.g., AFUE2) but would additionally require that the furnace fan maintain a level of efficiency (e.g., FER) no lower than the currently established FER standard. However, this approach was not suggested in the AHRI Petition, and DOE is not considering a modified combined metric, because with certain limited exceptions, DOE has interpreted the statutory definition of ‘‘energy conservation standard’’ at 42 U.S.C. 6291(6) and 42 U.S.C. 6311(18) as permitting establishment of only a single performance standard.11 Furthermore, DOE notes that it is not clear that this suggested alternate approach would reduce the regulatory burden on manufacturers because a combined metric would have to include separate measurements and calculations for fuel consumption efficiency (to be compared to current AFUE standards), standby mode and off mode power consumption (to be compared to current PW,SB and PW,OFF standards), and furnace fan efficiency (to be compared to current FER standards) in order to prevent backsliding vis-a-vis any of the current metrics. Therefore, such an approach would effectively add an extra metric (e.g., AFUE2) without replacing 11 DOE notes that it has adopted dual metrics under 42 U.S.C. 6313(a)(6)(A), when the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has amended ASHRAE Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and set a dual metric and accompanying standard levels. See, e.g., 77 FR 28928 (May 16, 2012) (DOE adopted energy conservation standards for cooling and heating modes in terms of both Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and Coefficient of Performance (COP) for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) water-source heat pumps with cooling capacities at or greater than 135,000 Btu/h and less than 760,000 Btu/h (for which DOE did not previously have standards) in response to updated standards for such equipment in ASHRAE Standard 90.1.) DOE has also adopted a dual metric where a consensus agreement has been presented to DOE for adoption as a direct final rule (DFR) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 6295(p)(4). See, e.g., 76 FR 37408 (June 27, 2011) (For central air conditioners, DOE adopted dual metrics (i.e., the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and EER) for the hot-dry region as recommended by a consensus agreement supported by a variety of interested stakeholders including manufacturers and environmental and efficiency advocates.) DOE has interpreted these specific statutory provisions as authorizing an exception to the general rule previously stated. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:38 Sep 20, 2021 Jkt 253001 any of the current metrics in practical terms. Because DOE has determined that the proposed AFUE2 combined metric for furnaces and furnace fans would not be permitted under EPCA, DOE considers other comments received regarding the AHRI Petition, and in particular whether DOE should propose to adopt the AFUE2 metric, to be resolved. With regard to comments suggesting that DOE should align its future rulemakings for furnaces and furnace fans to minimize regulatory burden on manufacturers, DOE notes that it is bound by the statutory timeline provisions set out in EPCA. In particular, EPCA provides that, not later than 6 years after the issuance of any final rule establishing or amending a standard, DOE must publish either a notice of determination that standards for the product do not need to be amended, or a NOPR including new proposed energy conservation standards (proceeding to a final rule, as appropriate). (42 U.S.C. 6295(m)(1)) EPCA also requires that, at least once every 7 years, DOE evaluate test procedures for each type of covered product, including furnaces and furnace fans, to determine whether amended test procedures would more accurately or fully comply with the requirements for the test procedures to not be unduly burdensome to conduct and be reasonably designed to produce test results that reflect energy efficiency, energy use, and estimated operating costs during a representative average use cycle or period of use. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(1)(A)) To the extent feasible, DOE will seek to align the statutory review schedules for furnaces and furnace fans consistent with the provisions EPCA. V. Denial of Petition Taking into account all of the factors discussed above and consistent with the requirements under EPCA, DOE is hereby denying AHRI’s petition for rulemaking. VI. Approval of the Office of the Secretary The Secretary of Energy has approved publication of this final denial of petition for rulemaking. Signing Authority This document of the Department of Energy was signed on September 9, 2021, by Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, pursuant to delegated authority from the Secretary of Energy. That document with the original signature PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 52429 and date is maintained by DOE. For administrative purposes only, and in compliance with requirements of the Office of the Federal Register, the undersigned DOE Federal Register Liaison Officer has been authorized to sign and submit the document in electronic format for publication, as an official document of the Department of Energy. This administrative process in no way alters the legal effect of this document upon publication in the Federal Register. Signed in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2021. Treena V. Garrett, Federal Register Liaison Officer, U.S. Department of Energy. [FR Doc. 2021–19813 Filed 9–20–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 1 [MD Docket 21–190; FCC 21–98; FRS 47254] Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2021 Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) seeks comment on two issues that impact regulatory fees. First, what methodology should we use to assess regulatory fees on unlicensed spectrum users, and second, how should we calculate the fee for small satellites that will become a feeable category in FY 2022. DATES: Submit comments on or before October 21, 2021 and reply comments on or before November 5, 2021. ADDRESSES: Interested parties may file comments and reply comments identified by MD Docket No. 21–190, by any of the following methods below. • Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ ecfs/. • Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. • Filings can be sent by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. • Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\21SEP1.SGM 21SEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 180 (Tuesday, September 21, 2021)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 52422-52429]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-19813]


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DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

10 CFR Part 430

[EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017]
RIN 1904-AE37


Energy Conservation Program: Test Procedures for Consumer Warm 
Air Furnaces; Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking

AGENCY: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of 
Energy.

ACTION: Final denial of petition for rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: This document announces and provides the reasoning for the 
U.S. Department of Energy's final denial of a petition filed by the 
Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute requesting that 
DOE initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking to develop a new combined 
test procedure for consumer furnaces and furnace fans, which would 
replace the two currently required performance metrics for furnaces and 
the one performance metric for furnace fans with a single new metric 
called ``AFUE2.''

DATES: This final denial of petition for rulemaking is applicable 
September 21, 2021.

ADDRESSES: The petition and comments filed in accordance with the 
timelines set forth in the prior Federal Register notice have been 
entered into docket number EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017. The docket is 
available for review at www.regulations.gov. For further information on 
how to review the docket, contact the Appliance and Equipment Standards 
Program staff at (202) 287-1445 or by email: 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Catherine Rivest, U.S. Department 
of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building 
Technologies Office, EE-5B, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 
20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 586-7335. Email: [email protected].
    Mr. Eric Stas, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General 
Counsel, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585-0103. 
Telephone: (202) 586-5827. Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Summary of Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking
II. Background and Authority

[[Page 52423]]

III. AHRI's Petition for Rulemaking Summary and Comments
IV. DOE Analysis and Discussion
V. Denial of Petition
VI. Approval of the Office of the Secretary

I. Summary of Final Denial of Petition for Rulemaking

    This document denies a petition received by the U.S. Department of 
Energy (``DOE'') from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration 
Institute (``AHRI'') requesting that DOE initiate a rulemaking to 
develop a new combined test procedure addressing covered consumer 
furnaces and furnace fans, which would replace the two currently 
required performance metrics for furnaces (i.e., annual fuel 
utilization efficiency (``AFUE'') and standby mode/off mode energy 
consumption (PW,SB/PW,OFF)) and the one 
performance metric for furnace fans (i.e., fan efficiency ratio 
(``FER'')) with a single new metric called ``AFUE2.'' AHRI asserted 
that a single performance metric would reduce regulatory burden for 
furnace manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning 
regulatory review schedules and promote design flexibility and product 
innovation.
    DOE has determined that a combined test procedure and energy 
conservation standard for consumer furnaces and furnace fans would 
enable an increase in the maximum allowable energy use and/or minimum 
required efficiency of furnaces and furnace fans, each a separate 
covered product. AHRI's suggested unified metric would allow for trade-
offs in energy use between the two separately regulated modes of 
furnace operation (i.e., active mode and standby mode/off mode) and 
furnaces fans. These tradeoffs in turn have the potential to allow for 
furnaces to consume more energy in active mode or standby mode/off mode 
than permitted under the active mode and standby/off mode standards, or 
for furnace fans to consume more energy than permitted under the 
current furnace fan standard. This is impermissible under the ``anti-
backsliding'' provision of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as 
amended (``EPCA''),\1\ which prevents the Secretary from prescribing 
any amended standard that either increases the maximum allowable energy 
use or decreases the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered 
product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)) DOE has also determined that a unified 
metric for consumer furnaces and furnace fans (using the proposed 
combined metric AFUE2) would be contrary to DOE's prior determination 
that it is technologically infeasible to integrate active mode and 
standby or off mode energy use for furnaces.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ All references to EPCA in this document refer to the statute 
as amended through the Energy Act of 2020, Public Law 116-260 (Dec. 
27, 2020).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Therefore, after carefully considering AHRI's request, supporting 
materials accompanying the request, and submitted comments, DOE is 
declining to grant AHRI's request for the reasons set forth in the 
following discussion.

II. Background and Authority

    EPCA, as amended, among of things, authorizes DOE to regulate the 
energy efficiency of a number of consumer products and certain 
industrial equipment. (42 U.S.C. 6291-6317) Title III, Part B \2\ of 
EPCA established the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products 
Other Than Automobiles, which sets forth a variety of provisions 
designed to improve energy efficiency for certain types of consumer 
products. These products include consumer furnaces and furnace fans, 
the focus of this document. (42 U.S.C. 6292(a)(5); 42 U.S.C. 
6295(f)(4)(D))
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, 
Part B was redesignated as Part A.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Under EPCA, DOE's energy conservation program consists essentially 
of four parts: (1) Testing, (2) labeling, (3) Federal energy 
conservation standards, and (4) certification and enforcement 
procedures. Relevant provisions of EPCA specifically include 
definitions (42 U.S.C. 6291), test procedures (42 U.S.C. 6293), 
labeling provisions (42 U.S.C. 6294), energy conservation standards (42 
U.S.C. 6295), and the authority to require information and reports from 
manufacturers (42 U.S.C. 6296).
    The Federal testing requirements consist of test procedures that 
manufacturers of covered products must use as the basis for: (1) 
Certifying to DOE that their products comply with the applicable energy 
conservation standards adopted pursuant to EPCA (42 U.S.C. 6295(s)), 
and (2) making representations about the efficiency of that product (42 
U.S.C. 6293(c)). Similarly, DOE must use these test procedures to 
determine whether the product complies with relevant standards 
promulgated under EPCA. (42 U.S.C. 6295(s))
    Under 42 U.S.C. 6293, EPCA sets forth the criteria and procedures 
DOE is required to follow when prescribing or amending test procedures 
for covered products. Specifically, EPCA requires that any test 
procedures prescribed or amended must be reasonably designed to produce 
test results which measure energy efficiency, energy use, or estimated 
annual operating cost of a covered product during a representative 
average use cycle or period of use and requires that test procedures 
not be unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)) The test 
procedures for consumer furnaces and furnace fans are set forth in the 
Code of Federal Regulations (``CFR'') at 10 CFR part 430. More 
specifically, the test procedure for furnaces is located at 10 CFR part 
430, subpart B, appendix N (``Appendix N''), Uniform Test Method for 
Measuring the Energy Consumption of Furnaces and Boilers. The test 
procedure for furnace fans is located at 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, 
appendix AA (``Appendix AA''), Uniform Test Method for Measuring the 
Energy Consumption of Furnaces Fans.
    Relevant to this document, EPCA also requires DOE to follow 
specific statutory criteria for prescribing new or amended standards 
for covered products, including consumer furnaces and furnace fans. Any 
new or amended standard for a covered product must be designed to 
achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that the Secretary 
of Energy determines is technologically feasible and economically 
justified. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(2)(A) and 42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(3)(B)) EPCA 
also contains what is known as an ``anti-backsliding'' provision, which 
prevents the Secretary from prescribing any amended standard that 
either increases the maximum allowable energy use or decreases the 
minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product. (42 U.S.C. 
6295(o)(1))
    Additionally, pursuant to the amendments to EPCA contained in the 
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (``EISA 2007''), Public 
Law 110-140, any final rule for new or amended energy conservation 
standards promulgated after July 1, 2010, is required to address 
standby mode and off mode energy use. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)) 
Specifically, when DOE adopts a standard for a covered product after 
that date, it must, if justified by the criteria for adoption of 
standards under EPCA (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)), incorporate standby mode and 
off mode energy use into a single standard, or, if that is not 
feasible, adopt a separate standard for such energy use for that 
product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)(A)-(B))
    DOE has established energy conservation standards for furnace 
energy efficiency using the AFUE metric, which is the ratio of annual 
output energy to annual input energy. 10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(ii). DOE also 
separately established energy

[[Page 52424]]

conservation standards for furnace standby mode and off mode electrical 
power consumption, PW,SB and PW,OFF, 
respectively, which account for all furnace electrical consumption in 
standby and off modes. 10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(iii). DOE has established an 
energy conservation standard for furnace fans using the FER metric, 
which is the ratio of the electrical energy consumption to airflow in 
watts per cubic feet per minute (CFM). 10 CFR 430.32(y). The FER metric 
measures performance during active mode when the fan is circulating 
air, but it does not include provisions for measuring standby mode and 
off mode energy consumption of furnace fans (although appendix AA 
includes a section reserved for future provisions to address standby 
mode and off mode energy use, if necessary). Instead, the standby mode 
and off mode energy consumption for furnace fans is addressed by the 
test procedures and metrics for consumer furnaces and residential 
central air conditioners and heat pumps, as these products operate in 
conjunction with furnace fans. See 78 FR 19606, 19619 (April 2, 2013).
    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq., 
provides among other things, that ``[e]ach agency shall give an 
interested person the right to petition for the issuance, amendment, or 
repeal of a rule.'' (5 U.S.C. 553(e))

III. AHRI's Petition for Rulemaking Summary and Comments

    On October 12, 2018, DOE received a petition from AHRI (``AHRI 
Petition'') asking DOE to initiate notice-and-comment rulemaking to 
develop a new test procedure for residential furnaces and furnace fans 
which would replace the two currently required performance metrics for 
furnaces (i.e., AFUE and PW,SB/PW,OFF) and the 
one performance metric for furnace fans (i.e., FER) with a single new 
metric (i.e., AFUE2).\3\ On November 14, 2018, DOE published a Notice 
of Petition for Rulemaking (``2018 Notice of Petition for Rulemaking'') 
announcing the receipt of the AHRI Petition and inviting interested 
parties to submit comments. 83 FR 56746.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The AHRI Petition is available in the docket at 
www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017-0002. The 
petition did not identify any of the information contained therein 
as confidential business information.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the petition, AHRI suggested AFUE2 metric would account for 
furnace fuel, fan power, and standby mode and off mode power 
consumption, and the measured value would represent the sum of usable 
heat and fan benefit, divided by the total fuel and electricity 
consumed. (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 2) \4\ AHRI asserted that transitioning to 
a single metric, such as AFUE2, would reduce regulatory burden on 
manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning regulatory 
review schedules, thereby promoting design flexibility and product 
innovation. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 4-5) The petitioner further asserted 
that consumers would also benefit by having a single, combined metric 
for product comparison purposes and by receiving some portion of 
anticipated cost savings, all of which could be achieved without 
sacrificing energy savings. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 5-6) The petition 
acknowledges that a combined metric would necessitate a translation of 
the existing energy conservation standards applicable to residential 
furnaces and furnace fans. (AHRI, No. 2 at pp. 6-7) Additionally, in a 
separate letter to DOE dated November 2, 2018, AHRI requested that DOE 
not enforce the reporting, certification and compliance obligations 
related to the furnace fan energy conservation standards pending 
consideration of their petition for rulemaking.\5\ (AHRI, No. 3 at pp. 
1-2)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ The parenthetical reference provides a reference for 
information located in the docket for the petition for rulemaking. 
(Docket No. EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017, which is maintained at 
www.regulations.gov). The references are arranged as follows: 
(Commenter name, comment docket ID number, page of that document).
    \5\ On November 2, 2018, DOE issued an enforcement policy 
stating that it would not enforce the testing, certification, and 
standards requirements for furnace fans while DOE considered the 
2018 Petition for Rulemaking. In response to the policy statement 
DOE received comments from a wide variety of parties as well as a 
letter from AHRI requesting that DOE rescind the enforcement policy. 
On February 11, 2019, DOE rescinded the November 2, 2018 policy 
statement. The request that DOE not enforce the furnace fan energy 
conservation pending consideration of the petition for rulemaking is 
not considered further in this document. The policy statement and 
rescission are available at www.energy.gov/gc/downloads/furnace-fan-enforcement-policy.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the 2018 Notice of Petition for Rulemaking, DOE invited 
interested parties to submit comments regarding the petition. 83 FR 
56746, 56746 (Nov. 14, 2018). DOE received comments in response to the 
2018 Notification of Petition for Rulemaking from the interested 
parties listed in Table II-1.\6\ In the following discussion, DOE 
addresses the relevant comments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ Stakeholders' comments can be accessed in the docket at 
www.regulations.gov/docket/EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017. DOE also received 
several non-substantive comments or comments not relevant to the 
petition, which are not included in the table.

        Table II-1--Written Comments Received in Response to 2018 Notification of Petition for Rulemaking
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Commenter(s)                        Abbreviation                    Commenter type
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air-Conditioning Heating, and Refrigeration     AHRI.................  Trade Association.
 Institute.
Alliance to Save Energy.......................  ASE..................  Efficiency Organizations.
Appliance Standards Awareness Project,          Joint Commenters.....  Efficiency Organizations.
 American Council for an Energy-Efficient
 Economy, and Natural Resources Defense
 Council.
California Energy Commission..................  CEC..................  State Agency.
Carrier Corporation...........................  Carrier..............  Manufacturer.
Connecticut Department of Energy and            CT DEEP..............  State Agency.
 Environmental Protection.
Consumer Federation of America and National     Consumer Groups......  Consumer Organizations.
 Consumer Law Center.
Earthjustice and the Sierra Club..............  Earthjustice and the   Efficiency Organizations.
                                                 Sierra Club.
Ingersoll Rand................................  Ingersoll Rand.......  Manufacturer.
Lennox International..........................  Lennox...............  Manufacturer.
Lochinvar/A.O. Smith Corporation..............  A.O. Smith...........  Manufacturer.
National Electric Manufacturers Association...  NEMA.................  Trade Association.
National Grid.................................  National Grid........  Utilities.
Natural Resources Defense Council.............  NRDC.................  Efficiency Organizations.
New York State Energy Research and Development  NYSERDA..............  State Agency.
 Authority.
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership.......  NEEP.................  Efficiency Organizations.
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance..........  NEEA.................  Efficiency Organizations.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council......  NPCC.................  Utilities.

[[Page 52425]]

 
Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California   CA IOUs..............  Utilities.
 Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric
 (collectively the California Investor-Owned
 Utilities).
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors..........  PHCC.................  Trade Association.
Regal Beloit America, Inc.....................  Regal Beloit.........  Manufacturer.
Rheem Manufacturing Company...................  Rheem................  Manufacturer.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In general overview, furnace manufacturers supported the AHRI 
petition, stating that a combined metric would lead to benefits for 
both manufacturers and/or consumers. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 1-5; 
Carrier, No. 33 at pp. 1, 3-4; Rheem, No. 45 at pp. 1-2; Ingersoll 
Rand, No. 43 at p. 1) More specifically, manufacturers referenced the 
fact that there are currently three different energy conservation 
standards (and three different test procedures) related to consumer 
furnace efficiency (i.e., AFUE, FER, and standby mode/off mode power 
consumption) and that each of these regulations is subject to separate 
regulatory review schedules. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3-4; Rheem, No. 45 
at pp. 1-2) Lennox further stated that having so many separate 
regulatory schedules places manufacturers, distributors, contractors, 
and DOE in a constant state of change and adjustment. Lennox stated 
that every time DOE amends standards, manufacturers must redesign 
equipment, make capital investments to update manufacturing facilities, 
republish marketing literature, and educate distributors, contractors, 
and consumers about the changes. Lennox also asserted that the costs 
associated with these activities are ultimately passed on to consumers. 
(Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3-5) Manufacturers stated that adopting the 
AFUE2 metric, consolidating certification and testing requirements, and 
streamlining rulemaking and redesign cycles could allow for more 
effective utilization of manufacturer resources by reducing this 
regulatory burden. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3-4; Carrier, No. 33 at p. 3; 
Rheem, No. 45 at p. 1; Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1)
    Manufacturers also generally asserted that the simplified ratings 
could reduce design constraints or otherwise increase opportunities for 
innovation. (Carrier, No. 33 at p. 3; Rheem, No. 45 at p. 2; Ingersoll 
Rand, No. 43 at p. 1) Lennox suggested that setting requirements for 
individual furnace components restricts design choices between various 
aspects of a residential furnace. Lennox stated that the AFUE2 test 
method would promote innovation by enabling manufacturers to develop 
the most effective solution for overall product efficiency at the 
lowest cost. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 5) In its petition, AHRI estimated 
that the total reduction in regulatory burden resulting from 
implementation of AFUE2 would save manufacturers more than $250 million 
over thirty years. (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 4) \7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ AHRI's calculations of burden reduction are included in 
Exhibit 3, which was submitted with the original petition and can be 
found at www.regulations.gov/document/EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017-0002.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Manufacturers also stated that a combined metric would make it 
easier for consumers to compare the overall efficiencies of furnace 
models. (Carrier, No. 33 at pp. 3-4; Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 3, 4) More 
specifically, Lennox suggested that consumers (and selling contractors) 
often do not understand that the energy consumption associated with the 
FER metric generally is less than 5 percent of the total energy 
consumed in the operation of a product, or that standby mode represents 
a miniscule amount of energy use compared to the amount of energy used 
to create heat via combustion. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 3)
    Lennox also commented that the AFUE2 metric would also have the 
benefit of reducing the need for government intervention and saving 
government resources by reducing the quantity of regulations. (Lennox, 
No. 34 at pp. 2, 5) Finally, several furnace manufacturers commented 
that although a crosswalk has not yet been completed, further work in 
this area should continue and suggested that revised energy efficiency 
standards (in terms of AFUE2) could reflect the overall system energy 
efficiency already required by the AFUE, PWSB and 
PWOFF, and FER metrics. (Ingersoll Rand, No. 43 at p. 1; 
Rheem, No. 45 at p. 2; Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 2, 4)
    In contrast, efficiency organizations, State agencies, and 
utilities generally opposed the petition, asserting that the combined 
metric would obscure the efficiencies of separately regulated elements 
(which often use different energy sources) and could potentially lead 
to backsliding. These commenters also asserted that a combined metric 
could reduce the amount of future energy savings potential. (NEEA, No. 
35 at pp. 1, 4; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 1-3; CEC, No. 38 at pp. 
1-6; Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, No. 31 at pp. 1, 3-4; NRDC, No. 
39 at pp. 1, 4-5; NYSERDA, No. 30 at pp. 1-2; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1-
4; NEEP, No. 36 at p. 1; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1; NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 
5-8)
    Consumer Groups stated that AHRI's petition relies on the 
assumption that a crosswalk can be generated to translate the three 
current standards to a single standard that relies on AFUE2 without: 
(a) Diminishing the energy savings that would otherwise be achieved, 
(b) harming consumers, or (c) violating EPCA. These commenters stated 
that it is unproven that such a crosswalk is possible and further 
argued that such approach would not be permissible under EPCA. 
(Consumer Groups, No. 31 at pp. 2-4)
    The Joint Commenters stated that AHRI's requested change to the 
test procedures (and subsequent changes to the energy conservation 
standards), if adopted by DOE, would violate the specific directive 
from EPCA that requires DOE to set air circulation efficiency 
standards; illegally combine the required air circulation standard with 
a standards based on fuel use; improperly apply the EPCA provision 
regarding adjustment to standards based on test procedure changes to an 
amendment merging standards; \8\ and adopt an approach for standby mode 
and off mode power consumption that DOE has previously found is not 
technically feasible. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at p. 7) Earthjustice 
and the Sierra Club and NRDC similarly stated

[[Page 52426]]

that DOE does not have authority under EPCA to crosswalk and combine 
multiple metrics into a single combined metric, or the authority to 
combine the standby mode and off mode power consumption metrics with 
active mode energy consumption for furnaces. (Earthjustice and the 
Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 4-6; NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 3-6) Earthjustice 
and the Sierra Club also stated that DOE does not have authority under 
EPCA to combine the electrical energy consumption of furnace fans into 
the fuel efficiency standards for furnaces. (Earthjustice and the 
Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 2-3) Consumer Groups stated that AHRI's 
position that 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) provides the authority for DOE to 
develop an AFUE2 standard to replace the three current standards is in 
error because AHRI is not proposing to amend an existing test procedure 
(which is what 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) addresses), but rather to eliminate 
existing test procedures and replace them with an entirely new test 
procedure and associated standards. (Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 6)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ DOE understands the Joint Commenters to be referencing 42 
U.S.C. 6293(e), which provides that in the case of any amended test 
procedure, the Secretary shall determine to what extent, if any, the 
proposed test procedure would alter the measured energy efficiency, 
measured energy use, or measured water use of any covered product as 
determined under the existing test procedure and that if the 
Secretary determines that the amended test procedure will alter the 
measured efficiency or measured use, the Secretary shall amend the 
applicable energy conservation standard as prescribed by certain 
provisions specified in 42 U.S.C. 6293(e) during the rulemaking 
carried out with respect to such test procedure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Multiple commenters also asserted that under the combined metric, 
less-efficient furnace fans could be used and that this would reduce 
the potential for future energy savings or enable the use of less-
efficient furnace fans than are currently allowed. (NEEP, No. 36 at p. 
1; CEC, No. 38 at pp. 3-4; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1; NYSERDA, No. 30 at 
pp. 1-2; National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1-4; 
NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 5-8; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at pp. 3-4; NPCC, No. 29 
at p. 2; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2-3, 7; Earthjustice and the 
Sierra Club, No. 41 at pp. 3-4)
    Regal Beloit commented that the AFUE2 test procedure could 
potentially result in an increase in the maximum allowable energy use 
from furnace fans because the AFUE2 test procedure would change certain 
definitions and/or values of certain variables that could lead to an 
increase in the maximum allowable energy use of furnace fans. (Regal 
Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4) NEEP and CT DEEP commented that combining 
efficiency standards could present new challenges for energy efficiency 
efforts that use Federal standards in their calculations. (NEEP, No. 36 
at p. 1; CT DEEP, No. 46 at p. 1)
    PHCC supported the effort to consolidate metrics and streamline the 
regulatory process (which it asserted would lead to reduced costs for 
consumers), but also expressed concerns that the proposal should 
undergo further review to ensure that no backsliding could occur. 
(PHCC, No. 32 at pp. 1-2) NEMA supported the initiative to reduce 
regulatory burden by consolidating the three existing test procedures 
into a single metric for furnaces, but expressed concerns that the 
proposal outlined in the AHRI Petition would not comply with statutory 
requirements set forth in EPCA (specifically referencing the anti-
backsliding provision at 42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1)). NEMA encouraged DOE to 
deny AHRI's petition but encouraged AHRI to reformulate its proposed 
metric to ensure compliance with EPCA. (NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 2-8)
    Several commenters expressed concern that the AFUE2 metric could 
confuse, mislead, or otherwise negatively impact consumers by masking 
the operating costs of different elements and products (with different 
energy sources), or lead to increased consumer costs. (NEEA, No. 35 at 
pp. 1-4; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 1, 4, 8; NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 
2, 8; NYSERDA, No. 30 at pp. 1-2; National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; CA 
IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1, 5-6; Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 3; Regal 
Beloit, No. 25 at pp. 4-5) Similarly, ASE commented that the use of 
site-energy equivalents (rather than primary energy or average energy 
costs) to combine electricity and natural gas consumption into a single 
metric could lead to backsliding and could significantly misrepresent 
the relative energy operating costs to homeowners and consumers. (ASE, 
No. 40 at p. 2) NYSERDA stated that AFUE2 would incentivize 
manufacturers to optimize their designs to reduce site energy use, 
rather than consumer costs or total energy use. (NYSERDA, No. 30 at p. 
2) National Grid and the CA IOUs stated that combining fuel sources 
into one metric creates confusion for utilities when estimating fuel 
savings associated with different products, which could make it 
difficult to develop incentive programs. (National Grid, No. 28 at p. 
1; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1, 5-6) The CA IOUs suggested that a shift to 
AFUE2 would result in higher peak loads for electric utilities (which 
these commenters argued could in turn lead to higher utility bills for 
customers) because the saturation of efficient furnace fans and low 
standby loss units will decrease (as fan/electrical efficiency has a 
very limited impact on AFUE2 ratings). (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 7-8) 
Regal Beloit added that maintaining the FER metric would protect 
consumer choice by driving the use of high-efficiency motors in all 
furnace types. (Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4)
    Regarding manufacturer burden, the Joint Commenters suggested that 
moving forward with the AFUE2 metric could undermine regulatory 
predictability because it would strand the investments that furnace fan 
component manufacturers and furnace manufacturers have already made 
towards FER compliance. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 6-7) NEEP 
asserted that the AFUE2 petition and enforcement policy would create 
regulatory uncertainty and undue hardship for motor manufacturers, 
retailers, distributors, and customers who are unclear about which 
furnaces will be compliant with the new standards. (NEEP, No. 36 at p. 
1) NEEA and the Joint Commenters also suggested that AHRI's proposal 
would be damaging to manufacturers and their component and assembly 
suppliers, who have already invested in the design and production of 
products that meet the most recent efficiency standards. (NEEA, No. 35 
at p. 3; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2, 6-7) The CA IOUs also 
commented that there is no need for ``trade-offs'' between furnace fan 
and furnace efficiency, asserting that DOE has shown efficiency 
improvements to each rating to be cost-effective on their own. (CA 
IOUs, No. 27 at p. 7)
    Consumer Groups remarked that while reductions in regulatory burden 
in the abstract are desirable, nothing in EPCA establishes ``reducing 
regulatory burden'' as a statutory goal, and according to these 
commenters, the contents of the AHRI petition violate explicit 
provisions of that statutory scheme. Specifically, the Consumer Groups 
provided several citations, which they argue require DOE to adopt and 
enforce standards for furnaces, including 42 U.S.C. 6291(23) (defining 
``furnace''), 42 U.S.C. 6291(22) (setting ``annual fuel utilization 
efficiency'' as the ``efficiency descriptor'' for ``furnaces''), 42 
U.S.C 6295(f)(1) (setting initial AFUE standards for furnaces), 42 
U.S.C. 6295(f)(4)(D) (directing DOE to set standards for furnace fans), 
and 42 U.S.C. 6295(gg) (directing DOE to set standards for furnace 
standby mode and off mode energy use). (Consumer Groups, No. 31 at pp. 
2-4)
    NEEA disagreed with AHRI's claim that innovation would increase as 
a result of adoption the AFUE2 metric and suggested that innovation 
would actually decrease because manufacturers often improve product 
features unrelated to efficiency at the same time that they redesign 
products to meet new energy efficiency requirements. (NEEA, No. 35 at 
p. 2) Similarly, the Joint Commenters commented that AFUE2 would allow 
manufacturers to avoid innovating air movement designs and suggested 
that increases in standards

[[Page 52427]]

drive innovation. (Joint Commenters, No. 42 at p. 9)
    The Joint Commenters argued that AHRI's claim of manufacturer cost 
savings is overstated and appears to result from the assumption that 
furnace fan and standby mode and off mode efficiency improvements would 
not be required, which the commenters argued is not realistic since 
future standards must maximize technologically feasible and 
economically justified efficiency improvements. These commenters also 
argued that the assumption by AHRI that all future standards will have 
the same conversion costs as the first standard is similarly 
unrealistic, because future increases to the furnace fan standards will 
not be as far-reaching as the initial standards. (Joint Commenters, No. 
42 at p. 7)
    Several commenters, including manufacturers, utilities, and 
efficiency organizations, did come together in support of aligning 
future rulemakings or compliance timelines (including AFUE, FER, and 
PWSB and PWOFF test procedures and standards) to 
reduce manufacturer burden. (Lennox, No. 34 at pp. 2, 5-6; Regal 
Beloit, No. 25 at p. 1; Joint Commenters, No. 42 at pp. 2, 7; CEC, No. 
38 at p. 5; CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 8-9; Consumer Groups, No. 31 at p. 
3; NEMA, No. 26 at p. 8; NEEA, No. 35 at p. 2) Lennox opined that EPCA 
(specifically, 42 U.S.C. 6295(m)(4)(B)) precludes DOE from imposing 
AFUE and FER standards in an uncoordinated manner within a six-year 
period. (Lennox, No. 34 at p. 6)
    Several commenters stated that the AFUE2 metric was developed 
without significant or open stakeholder input and/or argued that 
further review would be required before it could be adopted. (NEEP, No. 
36 at pp. 1-2; CT DEEP, No. 46 at pp. 1-2; NYSERDA, No. 30 at p. 2; 
National Grid, No. 28 at p. 1; Regal Beloit, No. 25 at p. 4) Along 
these lines, ASE suggested that a single metric is logical and 
intuitive for consumers and could be investigated in a future 
rulemaking to determine whether a single metric for furnaces is 
feasible, capable of facilitating increased efficiency, and in the best 
interests of homeowners and consumers. However, ASE also suggested that 
DOE should conduct a thorough analysis of the possibility of a new test 
procedure for the next energy conservation standard for furnaces to 
avoid the need for a crosswalk and prevent the possibility of 
backsliding. (ASE, No. 40 at p. 2) Similarly, NPCC supported the 
concept of a single metric because it could be a simpler metric for 
consumers, could reduce the number of test procedures and energy 
conservation standards rulemakings for DOE and industry, and could 
permit more flexible innovation by manufacturers. However, NPCC opposed 
the petition as written, asserting that the specific AFUE2 approach in 
the petition would likely reduce or eliminate the impact of the furnace 
fan standards. (NPCC, No. 29 at p. 2)
    NRDC and the CA IOUs specifically opposed the AFUE2 test 
procedure's move to eliminate cyclic testing, asserting that this would 
remove the incentives for manufacturers to reduce cycling losses. 
(NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 6-7; CA IOUs, No. 27 at p. 9) NRDC also asserted 
that elimination of cyclic testing in the requested test procedure and 
its modification of the assumed operating hours that go into 
calculating AFUE are attempts to reopen issues that have already been 
publicly discussed and decided by DOE. (NRDC, No. 39 at pp. 6-7)
    NEMA recommended that in any future standard based on AFUE2, DOE 
should require that the portion of the AFUE2 metric that accounts for 
furnace electrical consumption be as stringent or more stringent than 
the currently established FER standards. NEMA stated that this approach 
would require the differences in AHRI's proposed AFUE2 formula and 
DOE's FER formula (e.g., use of different operating hours) to be 
reconciled. (NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 6-8) A.O. Smith commented that the 
AFUE2 metric should not be applied to boilers based on the commenter's 
understanding of the scope of the petitioners' request and the product 
distinctions between a forced-air furnace and consumer boiler. A.O. 
Smith expressed concerns with several aspects of the AFUE2 metric 
including: (1) Inclusion of source-based power generation differences 
between gas and electricity in the metric; (2) the technical 
feasibility of integrating standby mode and off mode consumption with 
fossil-fuel consumption for consumer boilers; and (3) the absence of an 
affirmative indicator of intent to include consumer boilers in the 
AFUE2 metric. (A.O. Smith, No. 44 at pp. 1-2)
    As explained in the following section, DOE carefully considered the 
relevant comments received in evaluating whether to initiate a 
rulemaking to propose adoption of the AFUE2 metric as requested by AHRI 
in its petition for rulemaking. DOE's response to these comments and 
its decision on the AHRI Petition are discussed in the balance of this 
document.

IV. DOE Analysis and Discussion

    DOE first considered whether EPCA provides authority to adopt a 
single metric for furnaces and furnace fans, as requested by AHRI in 
their Petition for Rulemaking. As discussed, EPCA requires that any 
test procedures prescribed or amended must be reasonably designed to 
produce test results which measure energy efficiency or energy use of a 
covered product during a representative average use cycle or period of 
use, as determined by the Secretary, and shall not be unduly burdensome 
to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)) While the AHRI petition suggests 
that standards relying on AFUE2 could be established through a 
``crosswalk'' as part of the test procedure rulemaking under 42 U.S.C. 
6293(e), that provision does not affect the Secretary's obligation to 
issue final rules as described in 42 U.S.C. 6295. (42 U.S.C. 
6293(e)(4)) Among the obligations under 42 U.S.C. 6295, EPCA requires 
that any new or amended energy conservation standard prescribed by the 
Secretary for any type (or class) of covered product must be designed 
to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency, which the 
Secretary determines is technologically feasible and economically 
justified. (42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(2)(A)) DOE must also generally 
incorporate standby mode and off mode energy use into a single 
standard, or, if that is not feasible, adopt a separate standard for 
such energy use for that product. (42 U.S.C. 6295(gg)(3)(A)-(B)) Also 
as discussed, EPCA contains what is known as an ``anti-backsliding'' 
provision, which prevents the Secretary from prescribing any amended 
standard that either increases the maximum allowable energy use or 
decreases the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product. 
(42 U.S.C. 6295(o)(1))
    In the past, DOE has determined furnaces and furnace fans to be 
separate covered products, each subject to the relevant test procedure 
and energy conservation standard provisions under EPCA. 79 FR 38130, 
38175 (July 3, 2014). EPCA explicitly includes furnaces in the list of 
covered products. (42 U.S.C. 6292(a)(5)) Subject to certain criteria 
and conditions, EPCA requires DOE to consider and establish energy 
conservation standards for ``electricity used for purposes of 
circulating air through duct work'' (which DOE has defined as 
residential ``furnace fans'' at 10 CFR 430.2)). (42 U.S.C. 
6295(f)(4)(D)) Accordingly, DOE has established energy conservation 
standards at 10 CFR 430.32(y) for furnace fans as covered products 
through a final rule published

[[Page 52428]]

in the Federal Register on July 3, 2014. 79 FR 38130. Separately, DOE 
has established an energy conservation standard for furnaces governing 
the energy efficiency of active mode (10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(ii)) and also 
established standards for furnace standby mode and off mode electrical 
power consumption (10 CFR 430.32(e)(1)(iii)).
    DOE first evaluated whether it would be possible to establish a 
standard in terms of AFUE2 without increasing the maximum allowable 
energy use or decreasing the minimum required efficiency of furnaces 
(excluding during standby mode and off mode operation) and/or furnace 
fans (i.e., whether a standard could be prescribed in terms of AFUE2 
without violating EPCA's anti-backsliding provision).
    A combined metric (i.e., AFUE2) for furnaces and furnace fans would 
reflect the total energy consumption from both the furnace and furnace 
fan. In its petition, AHRI described the concept of the AFUE2 metric as 
follows: ``The AFUE2 metric accounts for furnace fuel, fan power, and 
stand-by and off-mode power consumption. The measured value represents 
the sum of usable heat and fan benefit, divided by the total fuel and 
electricity consumed.'' (AHRI, No. 2 at p. 2) As a result of combining 
the various metrics into a single metric, manufacturers would be able 
to make tradeoffs between the efficiencies of the various covered 
products (e.g., using a less-efficient fan while improving the 
efficiency of fuel consumption), which could lead to the efficiencies 
of either covered product (i.e., either the furnace or furnace fan) 
decreasing below the currently applicable energy conservation standard.
    As an example, if a single energy conservation standard were 
established for furnaces and furnace fans using the AFUE2 metric that 
is of equivalent stringency to the current minimum AFUE and maximum 
standby mode and off mode power consumption levels required for 
furnaces, and the maximum FER levels allowed for furnace fans, then a 
furnace paired with a highly efficient furnace fan could potentially 
have a fuel consumption efficiency (i.e., AFUE) less than what is 
currently required under the AFUE standards (e.g., less than 80 percent 
AFUE for non-weatherized gas furnaces), resulting in backsliding for 
the furnace efficiency as compared to the existing AFUE standard. 
Similarly, an AFUE2 standard could be met by pairing a furnace with a 
high AFUE (e.g., over 90 percent) with an inefficient furnace fan that 
that would not separately meet the existing FER requirement. Furnaces 
with high AFUE ratings could also potentially meet AFUE2 standards 
despite having standby mode and/or off mode power consumption that are 
not compliant with current requirements.
    The CA IOUs provided test data for two units tested to the AFUE, 
FER, and AFUE2 test procedures that illustrated the risk of 
backsliding. The two units tested were both non-weatherized gas 
furnaces, and both had 80-percent AFUE ratings, input capacities of 
60,000 Btu/h, and maximum blower rated airflows of 1,200 CFM. One unit 
(referred to as unit under test (``UUT'')-01) had a permanent split 
capacitor blower motor and an FER rating of 359 Watts per 1,000 cfm 
(which is non-compliant with the existing standard for furnace fans at 
10 CFR 430.32(y)). The other unit (UUT-02) had a blower with a multi-
speed electrically commutated motor and an FER rating of 233 Watts per 
1,000 cfm (which is compliant with the existing standard for furnace 
fans at 10 CFR 430.32(y)). Despite the significant differences in fan 
motor efficiencies, the AFUE2 ratings were only 1.3 percent 
different.\9\ (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 1-3) These test results 
illustrate how efficiency improvements associated with a high-fuel-
efficiency furnace could offset efficiency decreases from using a low-
efficiency furnace fan at a given AFUE2 rating (i.e., illustrating how 
under a unified metric, implementing a high-efficiency furnace 
technology could enable backsliding of furnace fan energy efficiency). 
Thus, if DOE were to adjust its existing furnaces energy conservation 
standards to now also capture fan energy use, it would only impact 
minimally compliant products and arguably grant an improper reprieve to 
products at the higher end of the efficiency marketplace. Additionally, 
as was also discussed by the CA IOUs, the data provided by AHRI in its 
AFUE2 Petition Exhibit 2 (Example Calculations) \10\ suggests that 
units with a wide range of FER ratings (including those that are 
compliant with the current FER requirements and those that are not) can 
have the same AFUE2 ratings. (CA IOUs, No. 27 at pp. 3-4) As a result 
of these findings, DOE has determined that adopting a single AFUE2 
metric would violate EPCA's anti-backsliding provisions because it 
would allow decreases in the energy efficiency of individual covered 
products.
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    \9\ The CA IOUs did not measure jacket losses during testing and 
used the default value of 1 percent, as is allowed by the furnace 
test procedure at Appendix N if a jacket lost test is not conducted. 
The CA IOUs also estimated the AFUE2 results with a jacket loss 
factor of 0.3 percent, and the difference in ratings between UUT-01 
and UUT-02 in that case was 1.2 percent.
    \10\ The original data provided by AHRI can be found at 
www.regulations.gov/document/EERE-2018-BT-PET-0017-0002 as Exhibit 
2.
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    In evaluating the AHRI petition, DOE also separately sought to 
determine whether it would be feasible to integrate the active mode 
energy use and standby mode and off mode power consumption into an 
integrated metric. DOE has previously determined in a final rule 
published in the Federal Register that it is not feasible to establish 
an energy conservation standard for furnaces that integrates electrical 
standby mode and off mode energy use. 75 FR 64621, 64623 (Oct. 20, 
2010; ``October 2010 final rule''). In the October 2010 final rule, DOE 
concluded that it would not be technically feasible to develop an 
integrated metric combining electrical standby mode and off mode energy 
consumption into the calculation of overall annual energy consumption 
of those products because the standby mode and off mode energy usage, 
when measured, is essentially lost in practical terms due to the fact 
that manufacturers' ratings of AFUE are presented to the nearest whole 
number. Id. Although furnace ratings are now reported to the tenth 
place for compliance certification purposes (see 10 CFR 
429.18(a)(2)(vii)), standby mode and off mode power consumption is 
substantially less than active mode power consumption and may not be 
apparent in the measured energy use of a furnace, and it does not 
change the fact that DOE's furnace energy conservation standards using 
the AFUE metric continue to be set at the nearest whole number. As 
such, a combined metric would likely not provide consumers any 
meaningful information as to the standby mode and off mode energy use 
of a furnace and may disincentivize manufacturers from making 
improvements to standby mode and off mode furnace efficiency.
    DOE estimates that the electrical standby mode and off mode power 
consumption typically make up less than one percent of the combined 
furnace and furnace fan energy consumption, meaning that small 
increases in standby mode and off mode consumption would have little 
bearing on the AFUE2 rating. In its review of data provided by AHRI as 
part of its petition, DOE noted that a hypothetical doubling of the 
standby mode power consumption would result in a change of the AFUE2 
result of less than half of one percent for each unit in the dataset. 
The AHRI petition and accompanying data do not support DOE changing its 
prior determination that it is not be technically feasible to combine 
standby and off mode power consumption into a combined metric, and 
therefore, the

[[Page 52429]]

Department continues to conclude that these standards should remain 
separate.
    As discussed previously, NEMA suggested that to prevent 
backsliding, in conjunction with a combined metric, DOE could create a 
separate requirement for the efficiency of the electrical component. 
(NEMA, No. 26 at pp. 6-8) For example, under such an approach, DOE 
would establish a combined metric (e.g., AFUE2) but would additionally 
require that the furnace fan maintain a level of efficiency (e.g., FER) 
no lower than the currently established FER standard. However, this 
approach was not suggested in the AHRI Petition, and DOE is not 
considering a modified combined metric, because with certain limited 
exceptions, DOE has interpreted the statutory definition of ``energy 
conservation standard'' at 42 U.S.C. 6291(6) and 42 U.S.C. 6311(18) as 
permitting establishment of only a single performance standard.\11\ 
Furthermore, DOE notes that it is not clear that this suggested 
alternate approach would reduce the regulatory burden on manufacturers 
because a combined metric would have to include separate measurements 
and calculations for fuel consumption efficiency (to be compared to 
current AFUE standards), standby mode and off mode power consumption 
(to be compared to current PW,SB and PW,OFF 
standards), and furnace fan efficiency (to be compared to current FER 
standards) in order to prevent backsliding vis-a-vis any of the current 
metrics. Therefore, such an approach would effectively add an extra 
metric (e.g., AFUE2) without replacing any of the current metrics in 
practical terms.
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    \11\ DOE notes that it has adopted dual metrics under 42 U.S.C. 
6313(a)(6)(A), when the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating 
and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has amended ASHRAE Standard 
90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential 
Buildings, and set a dual metric and accompanying standard levels. 
See, e.g., 77 FR 28928 (May 16, 2012) (DOE adopted energy 
conservation standards for cooling and heating modes in terms of 
both Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and Coefficient of Performance 
(COP) for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) water-source heat pumps 
with cooling capacities at or greater than 135,000 Btu/h and less 
than 760,000 Btu/h (for which DOE did not previously have standards) 
in response to updated standards for such equipment in ASHRAE 
Standard 90.1.) DOE has also adopted a dual metric where a consensus 
agreement has been presented to DOE for adoption as a direct final 
rule (DFR) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 6295(p)(4). See, e.g., 76 FR 37408 
(June 27, 2011) (For central air conditioners, DOE adopted dual 
metrics (i.e., the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and EER) 
for the hot-dry region as recommended by a consensus agreement 
supported by a variety of interested stakeholders including 
manufacturers and environmental and efficiency advocates.) DOE has 
interpreted these specific statutory provisions as authorizing an 
exception to the general rule previously stated.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because DOE has determined that the proposed AFUE2 combined metric 
for furnaces and furnace fans would not be permitted under EPCA, DOE 
considers other comments received regarding the AHRI Petition, and in 
particular whether DOE should propose to adopt the AFUE2 metric, to be 
resolved. With regard to comments suggesting that DOE should align its 
future rulemakings for furnaces and furnace fans to minimize regulatory 
burden on manufacturers, DOE notes that it is bound by the statutory 
timeline provisions set out in EPCA. In particular, EPCA provides that, 
not later than 6 years after the issuance of any final rule 
establishing or amending a standard, DOE must publish either a notice 
of determination that standards for the product do not need to be 
amended, or a NOPR including new proposed energy conservation standards 
(proceeding to a final rule, as appropriate). (42 U.S.C. 6295(m)(1)) 
EPCA also requires that, at least once every 7 years, DOE evaluate test 
procedures for each type of covered product, including furnaces and 
furnace fans, to determine whether amended test procedures would more 
accurately or fully comply with the requirements for the test 
procedures to not be unduly burdensome to conduct and be reasonably 
designed to produce test results that reflect energy efficiency, energy 
use, and estimated operating costs during a representative average use 
cycle or period of use. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(1)(A)) To the extent 
feasible, DOE will seek to align the statutory review schedules for 
furnaces and furnace fans consistent with the provisions EPCA.

V. Denial of Petition

    Taking into account all of the factors discussed above and 
consistent with the requirements under EPCA, DOE is hereby denying 
AHRI's petition for rulemaking.

VI. Approval of the Office of the Secretary

    The Secretary of Energy has approved publication of this final 
denial of petition for rulemaking.

Signing Authority

    This document of the Department of Energy was signed on September 
9, 2021, by Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary 
and Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable 
Energy, pursuant to delegated authority from the Secretary of Energy. 
That document with the original signature and date is maintained by 
DOE. For administrative purposes only, and in compliance with 
requirements of the Office of the Federal Register, the undersigned DOE 
Federal Register Liaison Officer has been authorized to sign and submit 
the document in electronic format for publication, as an official 
document of the Department of Energy. This administrative process in no 
way alters the legal effect of this document upon publication in the 
Federal Register.

    Signed in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2021.
Treena V. Garrett,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, U.S. Department of Energy.
[FR Doc. 2021-19813 Filed 9-20-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P