The Energy Policy Act of 2005 recently signed by President Bush, contains three historic consensus agreements betweenARI,and several energy efficiency groups establishing national minimum efficiency standards on commercial package air conditioning equipment, commercial refrigeration equipment, and automatic commercial ice-making equipment that will save energy and protect the environment.

The terms of the agreements, enacted into law through the energy bill, involves national minimum efficiency standards that will be effective on January 1, 2010 and will avoid the need for 27 new 300 MW power plants. The law sets new more stringent minimum efficiency standards for packaged air conditioners and heat pumps (from 65,000 Btuh up to 240,000 Btuh cooling capacity) that are used in many commercial buildings, a 26% improvement.

In addition, the law will extend for the first time the federal standards program to:

  • Large package commercial air conditioners and heat pumps from 240,000 Btuh up to 760,000 Btuh cooling capacity;
  • Commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator freezers used in restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and other commercial buildings; and
  • Automatic commercial icemakers.

These agreements were negotiated by ARI and energy efficiency groups, represented by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

ARI president William G. Sutton hailed the enactment of these agreements into federal law, stating it "helps manufacturers by creating a regulatory certainty that enables them to research and develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase-out the use of HCFC refrigerants that can deplete the ozone layer."

The efficiency levels contained in the law will reduce peak power needs by an estimated 8,000 megawatts by 2020, which is equivalent to the output of 27 new power plants of 300-MW each.