NPGA has learned that the Department of Energy (DOE) will soon publish its Final Rule on decorative hearth products in the Federal Register. DOE forwarded an advance copy of the ruling to NPGA late last week. In reviewing the rule, NPGA determined that DOE has modified its definition of "vented hearth heater" from its earlier proposal. Specifically, the agency has excluded gas log sets outright from having to meet any energy conservation standards. Decorative gas fireplaces are excluded from energy conservation standards only if they meet specified exclusion criteria that is consistent with the agency's July 22, 2011 proposed rule. In order for decorative gas fireplaces to be excluded from meeting minimum efficiency requirements, they must:
One of NPGA's main concerns with the proposal was the impact it would have on gas log sets. As proposed, it likely would have eliminated entire product lines as well as had a significant economic impact including the loss of jobs for the propane industry. NPGA is pleased that DOE removed the requirement for decorative gas log sets to meet minimum efficiency requirements without the need to meet any exclusion criteria. DOE states that they will review these products further and address them in a subsequent rulemaking.
Having said this, however, NPGA still believes that DOE erred by including both decorative gas fireplaces and gas log sets as 'covered products' within the Direct Heating Equipment (DHE) category, thus allowing them to remain subject to possible future DOE actions. While the industry has achieved a measure of success with the elimination of gas log sets from meeting energy conservation standards, the overall issue of whether decorative gas hearth products should be considered DHE is a complex one. To that end, NPGA continues to review the Final Rule and will consult with our industry leaders as well as legal counsel for next possible courses of action, as deemed appropriate.
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