The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) applauds the
January 25, 2012, opinion and order by Judge Martha Vazquez in favor of
the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) in
their challenge to the 2007 Albuquerque Energy Code. Several local ACCA
members stood as plaintiffs in the suit.
In 2007 the City of Albuquerque approved changes to the
Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code that would have mandated minimum
energy conservation standards for HVAC and water heating equipment that
exceeded federal minimum standards. Federal law prohibits state or local
jurisdiction from setting more stringent minimum energy conservation
standards without a waiver of preemption from the Department of Energy.
The City did not obtain a waiver and changes it proposed to the Energy
Conservation Code did not relieve it of the need for a waiver.
As a result, AHRI challenged the Energy Conservation Code in
Federal District Court for the District of New Mexico. Local
distributors and HVAC contractors impacted by the proposed Energy
Conservation Code were named plaintiffs and testified in the case.
“I want to recognize the contribution of ACCA members Affordable
Services, Inc., and Thompson Heating and Air Conditioning, who stood up
for the industry and agreed to be a named plaintiff in a case against
the city they work in every day,” said Paul Stalknecht, ACCA President
According to AHRI, in her latest opinion, Judge Vazquez confirmed
her September 10, 2010, rulings (1) that the prescriptive energy
efficiency standards in the 2007 Albuquerque code that are more
stringent than federal minimum efficiency standards are preempted and
cannot be saved from federal preemption by the availability of
alternative code compliance paths; and (2) that a particular
performance-based code compliance option is preempted, because it is
based on a standard reference design that uses efficiency levels that
exceed federal efficiency standards. Responding to a summary judgment
motion filed by the City that essentially asked Judge Vazquez to
reconsider her earlier rulings, she declined to do so and denied the
“Federal law is clear and was upheld in the case,” said
Stalknecht. “States and localities cannot set their own standards that
are higher than the federal standards without a waiver from preemption.
The resulting patchwork quilt of minimum efficiency standards would be
confusing to consumers and impossible to enforce.”