Thermal H20 storage legislation closer to law

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Arlington, Va. — The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) applauds the Senate’s approval of regulatory relief for thermal storage water heaters. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio were successful in amending the Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S.1) with needed language that resolved an unintended consequence of the water heater efficiency standard set to become effective on April 16 of this year. The language creates a separate product category for thermal storage water heaters, also called grid-enabled water heaters, which are large electric storage water heaters whose energy use can be managed by a utility to minimize operation during times of high-grid demand.

“Sens. Shaheen and Portman have explored almost a half-dozen legislative methods to correct this regulatory mistake,” said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. “Their relentless efforts have helped manufacturers and electric co-ops move closer and closer to maintaining the manufacturing jobs, electricity load management benefit, and reduced consumer utility bills that these water heaters represent.”

This component of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, known as the Shaheen-Portman bill, has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inclusion in the large energy efficiency bill. According to a 2012 FERC report, as many as 5.8 million customers are enrolled in direct-load control programs. Through a technical error in the water heating rule, these customers would not have access to the larger volume replacement “smart” water heaters needed for these programs. In addition, the estimated 250 electrical cooperatives that offer such demand response programs would have to fundamentally alter their demand response strategies, since the FERC estimates that such programs account for nearly 9.2 percent of U.S. peak demand.

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