WASHINGTON — Contractor members of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association met here in mid-April to lobby their Congressmen on what they believe will be a disastrous Department of Energy furnace rule and on workforce development. The contractors were also concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” to include every pond and drainage ditch in the country.
DOE is proposing that all gas furnaces be 92% AFUE or higher by 2020. According to PHCC, the proposal was put together with advice from academics and think tanks because nobody asked the opinion of furnace manufacturers and contractors. The proposal would create financial hardship for many consumers, the association said. PHCC contractors said the rule, if enacted, would create retrofit situations where it would be impossible to vent 92% efficient furnaces. The result would be consumers running faulty furnaces, installing electric furnaces, or relying on kerosene heaters.
The PHCC contractors also engaged with Congress to convey the great employment opportunities that exist in the plumbing-heating-cooling industry. For every four workers leaving the industry, only one is entering the field. The contractors told Congressmen that the industry would need 100,000 more workers by 2022 to replace those retiring and to meet increased demand.