AHRI’s State Government Affairs Committee combines professionals from every facet of the industry to ensure all of our members’ priorities are represented at the state level. We have identified the following as key issues.
Biodiesel and Low Sulfur Content Fuel Oil
Many state legislatures are considering legislation mandating blended heating oil above five percent biodiesel. Such mandates would be exceedingly difficult to meet and would cause multiple problems for manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers.
Product Liability Issues
This is the most significant issue for the industry. Manufacturers currently manage risks for issues over which they have some degree of control, and balance them against potential benefits. Regulations mandating acceptance of fuel blends that cannot be independently verified as essentially equivalent to fuel oil, e.g., that have not been evaluated and recognized as acceptable by UL, can create liability issues that can limit consumer choice and result in higher costs.
No Equipment Has UL Safety Approval to Use Fuel Blends Greater Than Five Percent Biodiesel
Manufacturers simply do not have safety approval for equipment using biodiesel blends greater than five percent.
There is Little Information on the Effect of Higher Blends
Although there are studies on biodiesel blends, there are very little aggregate data on the effect of blends greater than five percent.
Ambient Temperatures Affect Blends
Engine manufacturers have had many reports of higher blend fuels turning to gel in extremely low temperatures, causing operability issues and potentially affecting the long-term reliability of the engine. Additional research is needed on the effect of ambient temperature on higher blends.
Quality Controls Lacking on Higher Blends
Blended fuels that do not perform properly because of inadequate mixing are also a concern. There are industry recommended practices for the physical blending of biodiesel in petroleum fuels, as well as industry recommended quality systems to ensure the consistency and quality of producers, marketers, and laboratories. However, industry quality controls for blends higher than five percent are deficient and can lead to inadequate mixing.
Operational Issues and Additional Maintenance Costs will Negatively Affect Consumers
More problems are most likely to occur during the summer months when fuel in oil-fired equipment may sit unused longer than during the winter months. In higher summer temperatures, moisture can gather in the tank head space, causing problems. In higher temperatures, the fuel can react with itself, eventually breaking down into particles that collect on the surface of tanks, nozzles, pumps, valves, screens, filters, etc. This can cause severe maintenance problems.
Patchwork of State Rules Problematic
The issue here is dealing with a variety of legislative and rule-making actions and their scheduled implementation requirements. Because of state-by-state differences, manufacturers would need to use the most extreme requirements for fuel blend and timing as the baseline. Even if the risks involved were minor, manufacturers have no control over equipment that is already installed and in use. The only way to deal with existing (legacy) equipment would be a product liability fund to protect both consumers and legacy manufacturers.
AHRI is a strong supporter of federal preemption and ensuring that energy efficiency standards for HVACR and water heating equipment are uniform throughout the United States.
AHRI supports tax incentives for all energy efficient HVAC and water heating equipment as a way to encourage environmental stewardship and further enable consumers to afford highly efficient products.
Tax credits and incentives vary greatly by state and product. The complete database of state credits can be found at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)
Federal residential tax credits and incentives are also available, and a list can be found here
For more information, please contact Mike O'Halloran, Manager, Government Affairs, at 703-524-8800 (312).