A U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has issued a permanent injunction enjoining the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (CEC) from enforcing its appliance marking, information filing and compliance regulations on certain equipment.

The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) filed a complaint with the federal court seeking relief from regulations promulgated by the CEC regarding federally "covered products" and "covered equipment" that are preempted expressly by Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). The federally covered products affected by the CEC's regulations were air conditioners and heat pumps, package terminal air conditioners, water heaters, and furnaces, as well as other residential and commercial appliances.

In a decision issued June 13, "the court recognized the problems that come with a patchwork of state regulations and gave a significant victory to manufacturers and consumers by ensuring that the principle of one federal regulation not 50 separate state regulations govern the manufacturing of federally covered HVACR products and equipment," according to William G. Sutton, president of ARI.

The court found that the federal regulations were adopted to address the "situation where appliance manufacturers were confronted with the problem of a growing patchwork of differing state regulations, which could increasingly complicate their design, production and marketing plans. Regulations in a few populous states could as practical matters determine the product lines sold nationwide, even in states where no regulations existed."

In enjoining the CEC's regulations, the court found that "allowing each state to submit different pieces of information about their products opens the door to the creation of the precise situation that Congress sought to avoid in passing the National Appliance Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA) - subjecting manufacturers to a patchwork of potentially inconsistent state regulations." NAECA contains efficiency standards, testing procedures, and labeling requirements, among other regulations, for certain residential appliances.