Advocating for our Industry
Our industry has an opportunity in the next couple of years to accomplish some regulatory and legislative goals that we have been striving to achieve for quite some time. The new Trump Administration and a new Congress provide AHRI with a renewed chance to advocate on behalf of the vibrant HVACR industry—in some cases, to more sympathetic ears.
As I’ve mentioned before in this column, one of AHRI’s three pillars is advocacy (the other two being standards and certification), and in this country we work with policy makers at the federal and state levels to secure and solidify the U.S. HVACR industry as the leader in product innovation, job creation, and production of energy-efficient products and equipment.
During the 115th Congress, which will take us through 2018, we have three main priorities: reform of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which governs the regulation of many of our members’ products; a change in the tax depreciation schedule for commercial HVACR and water heating equipment; and ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to bring about an orderly, global phase down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.
After more than 40 years, it is time to modernize and reform the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Enacted in 1975 in response to an oil export embargo imposed by the major oil producing countries, EPCA has been amended six times, the most recent being ten years ago, but it has not kept pace with the technology and marketplace changes that have dramatically affected the way products are manufactured, distributed, purchased and installed. Because EPCA is the act that governs the regulation of many of our members’ products, AHRI has a keen interest in ensuring it works for manufacturers as well as consumers.
The current tax depreciation schedule for commercial HVACR and water heating equipment is 39 years, well past the normal life span of much of that equipment. When business owners put off replacing equipment that is nearing the end of its useful life, or repair it to extend its useful life, there are energy consumption and environmental consequences that could be avoided with a more reasonable depreciation schedule. Older equipment is not only typically less energy efficient, but in many cases it uses previous generation—and even older, in some cases—refrigerants that can be harmful if released to the atmosphere. So, to encourage building owners to replace older, less efficient equipment, we will ask Congress to change that schedule if and when tax reform legislation is considered.
Finally, we will urge the Trump Administration to submit the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on the use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants to the Senate for ratification. This agreement, which AHRI has advocated for many years, will bring about an orderly, global phase down of these chemicals. The reason for our support is simple: A global agreement to phase down chemicals we believe ultimately will be replaced with or without our support provides predictability for our industry, and the fact that we were part of the negotiations right from the start means we were able to clearly state our views and have them considered by the delegates who ultimately approved the amendment.
There is no magic, readily available replacement for HFCs, though, so AHRI has spent the past six years undertaking a global research program to identify suitable alternatives. We are now in the final stage of that program, as many thousands of potential replacements have been whittled down to a relative few and testing is underway to ensure their safety in all potential applications.
I hope that I am able, in a future column, to report some legislative and regulatory successes, and until then, AHRI is proud to support our more than 315 member companies that make life better for Americans and people around the world. We look forward to partnering with like-minded associations to foster collaborative relationships with the Trump Administration and Congress on these and other issues of vital importance to our industry.