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[GreenYes] Big Maker of Air-Conditioners Breaks Ranks on Energy Rule
April 11, 2001     NEW YORK TIMES

              Big Maker of Air-Conditioners Breaks Ranks on
              Energy Rule

              By MATTHEW L. WALD

                    WASHINGTON, April 10  A review
                     by Bush administration officials that
              could lead them to relax a new efficiency
              standard for central air-conditioners has been
              dealt a blow by an unlikely source: the nation's
              second-largest air-conditioner manufacturer.

              The company, Goodman Manufacturing, which owns Amana and               several less  prominent brands, has sent a letter to
              Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham asking his  department not
              to revise the standard, which was approved in the last days of the
              Clinton administration and would require new models to be 30               percent more efficient than the current minimum standard. 

              The industry's trade association, the Air Conditioning and               Refrigeration Institute, has  asked that the efficiency increase
              be cut to 20 percent. But environmentalists are
              hoping to preserve the standard, and they have been joined by some               industrialists.

              The 30 percent improvement would be "a very cost-effective way to               reduce harmful air emissions and energy requirements,
               which as we know from California and other
              places is a critical issue now," Ben D. Campbell, executive vice               president and general counsel of Goodman,
              said in a telephone interview.

              Houston, Goodman's home city, has air pollution problems, Mr.               Campbell pointed out, and air-conditioners that require less
              electricity would help address those problems by
              reducing the need for fuel that is used to generate power.

              Twenty-four House Democrats, led by Representative Edward J.               Markey of Massachusetts, have signed a letter
              urging President Bush not to roll back the new standard on
              air-conditioners, or those also under review on clothes washers and               water  heaters. "If we are indeed in an `energy crisis,'
              as you suggest," they wrote, "then nothing could be more
              shortsighted or ill advised than to roll back appliance efficiency
              standards that reduce America's consumption of energy." 

              But at the Energy Department, one staff member said officials were               researching precisely what legal steps were needed to
              rescind the new standards. 

              The air-conditioner trade group maintains that cutting the               30-percent improvement to 20 percent would be
               "a smarter way to encourage conservation of electricity while
              easing the burden on all consumers, particularly low- and               fixed-income consumers."
              Thirty percent more efficiency would make the new air-conditioners               so expensive that homeowners would keep older,
               less efficient models, the group says. 

              Further, said Ed Dooley, a spokesman for the trade association, to               make the machines more efficient, manufacturers make
              them larger, with bigger heat-exchange surfaces.
              For the outdoor part of the air-conditioner, size is usually not a               problem, Mr. Dooley said, but some houses put the indoor
              coil in a closet built around the unit.

              "That will be a retrofit nightmare for some folks," he said. 

              Industry analysts say Goodman, which sells under its own name as               well as the names Amana, Janitrol and GMC, makes a
              relatively large number of high-efficiency machines. But
               Mr. Campbell said the company was taking its position simply               because  "we feel this is the right thing to do."


              Along with Goodman, second only to Carrier among makers of air-               conditioners, some state regulators also favor the 
              strict standard. One backer is Patrick Wood III,
              chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, whom Mr. Bush               recently chose to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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