The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a temporary ruling Jan. 9, 2013, on the ongoing matter of the amount of the refrigerant R-22 that will be able to be produced in or imported to the U.S. in the 2012-2014 timeframe. The “no action assurance” ruling reinforces previous agency action in establishing refrigerant allotment levels. The EPA plans to continue to decrease in the total amount of R-22 that will be manufactured or imported from 55 million pounds in 2012 to 39.5 million pounds in 2013.
Last year EPA's concerns about an oversupply of R-22 in the market led the agency to sharply restrict the R-22 allotment, which resulted in extreme price volatility of the refrigerant. NMHC/NAA responded by submitting a letter to the agency outlining the market disruptions.
Despite the recent notice, HVAC industry analysts expect the EPA to issue a final rule in Spring 2013 that could increase the allotment for 2013 by roughly 6.5 million pounds over the allotment level that was initially proposed. This marginal improvement in supply level however does not alter the fact that R-22 production will be ultimately phased out by 2020; after that time, only recycled product will be available for servicing equipment.
Property owners can expect R-22 to be available, but pricing remains in question. Last year's uncertainty resulted in the doubling and tripling of the cost paid to R-22 distributors.