By Ronald L. Perl, Esq.

In a previous post, we discussed a settlement of a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s new furnace efficiency standards. There is an agreement to scrap the standards, which would require new gas furnaces installed in our region to increase efficiency from 78% to 90%. However, the settlement requires the approval of a Federal Appeals Court, which has not scheduled a hearing on the issue. The new standards are significant to community associations because the new furnaces vent much differently than existing ones and require modifications to units and common elements, which may be difficult or impossible because of space limitations or building code issues. The new standard will go into effect on May 1, 2013 unless the Court acts before that time.

In a recent development, one of the parties to the case, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (“AHRI”) has filed a motion to stay the implementation of the standards until after the Court rules on the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement, no further stay will be necessary. However if the Court does not approve the settlement, AHRI wants the standards to be delayed for at least six months after the Court’s ruling. There is no real opposition to the stay; the DOE’s reply to the motion just wants the stay limited to the portion of the rule that is the subject of the litigation. The need for the stay is obvious, since it is likely that the settlement vacating the rule will ultimately be approved. Of course, the Court can solve the problem by simply acting quickly to approve the underlying settlement.  Stay tuned — we will keep you updated when there are further developments.

For more information on this or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.