State Advocacy: Why It Matters
Advocacy is one of AHRI’s three main pillars, along with standards development and certification. As an association, we represent our members’ interests in both legislative and regulatory offices on Capitol Hill. And as a trade association for manufacturers of residential and commercial air conditioning, space heating, water heating, and commercial refrigeration equipment and components, our policy interests cover a range of issues. However, our overarching goal is consistent: to ensure that laws and regulations allow our members to continue to operate their businesses effectively, while providing jobs for America’s highly-skilled workers and providing quality, efficient, affordable products to consumers. It is a complicated balance, but one our members are proud to manage.
In addition to national advocacy, we increasingly monitor and engage on state legislative and regulatory policy, as more states become active in energy and environmental issues. State policies may have a limited geographic impact, but they can significantly impact our members. In addition to the work we do by ourselves, AHRI also is active in many national organizations that work toward establishing important relationships and sound public policy at the state level.
To help advance this focus and further engage our members, AHRI hosted a State Summit in June in Sacramento, CA, that brought together more than fifty representatives from AHRI member companies to the state capital. In addition to lobbying, AHRI members heard from Tom Scott (National Federation of Independent Businesses) and Dorothy Rothrock (California Manufacturers and Technology Association) on ways President Trump’s and Governor Jerry Brown’s policies impact business in California. Rick Rivas, political consultant and founder of the California Project, shared his thoughts on the state’s political landscape, while others discussed the role of the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission in shaping and implementing state energy and environmental policy. The event attracted the attention of Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, who gave the keynote address, and Governor Brown, whose office met with AHRI members.
AHRI’s State Summit provided a unique opportunity to communicate our association’s policy positions in California, which are consistent with our national priorities. For example, the California Energy Commission is preparing a rulemaking on fans and blowers, but AHRI is concerned that regulating these component parts will add a burden to manufacturers, since these products are already regulated for energy efficiency in Title 20 and Title 24. At the same time, the Department of Energy has attempted its own rule for these products, but it is yet to be finalized. This is due in part to AHRI raising concerns about the metric, scope, equipment classes, implementation, and analysis.
AHRI is committed to working with regulatory bodies to develop sound, effective rules that do not put an undue burden on manufacturers, so there are some regulations we support, others we do not, at least in their initial form. For example, because AHRI is proud to support programs that help homeowners and small business owners replace outdated equipment with more efficient equipment, it was natural for AHRI members at the summit to advocate for a proposed Wood Smoke Reduction Program, which would provide incentives for homeowners to replace old wood-burning stoves with cleaner, more efficient alternatives that could lead to climate benefits and localized health benefits. Our members are continuously introducing new products because they care about innovation and energy efficiency.
On the other hand, we are less enamored of legislation introduced in California to rather rapidly increase California Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard to 100 percent. While AHRI is supportive of improved energy efficiency, we believe it is critical that lawmakers consider all potential repercussions. In this case, we have advised that legislators consider how energy reliability may impact equipment performance, and whether this bill might negatively affect energy costs for consumers.
These are just some of the many issues AHRI tracks on a daily basis to keep our members informed and ahead of the curve. Our core policy positions are reviewed and updated annually, and guide AHRI’s advocacy efforts at the state, federal, and international levels. They are available here: http://ahrinet.org/Policy/AHRI-On-the-Issues.aspx