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Behind the Bar | Energy | Legislature

Energy efficient appliances called ‘critical’ to addressing climate change

From left, Assembly members Sarah Peters, Howard Watts II and Michelle Gorelow on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020 on the third day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Government officials have set goals to combat climate change and increase the share of clean energy in the state, but according to Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas), energy efficiency is a “critical piece of the puzzle.”

That’s why Watts is sponsoring AB383, which was heard Tuesday in the Assembly Growth and Infrastructure Committee. The bill would set minimum energy efficiency levels for certain residential and commercial appliances and products, ranging from water coolers and air purifiers, to commercial fryers and ovens.

Less energy expended would result in avoided pollution, Watts told the committee, adding that using more efficient appliances and other devices could also mean spending less on utility bills.

Many appliances already have standards set by the federal government, but Watts said the bill is looking to “fill in the gaps where the federal government has fallen behind in setting standards.”

With the standards outlined in the bill, Brian Fadie, with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, estimates that Nevadans could see up to $29 million in annual utility bills savings by 2035.

Any manufacturer, distributor, retailer or installer who violates provisions of the bill would be liable to a civil penalty, after a warning. The first penalty after the warning would be not more than $100 for each day of violation and for each act of violation; any following penalties would be less than $500 each day of violation and for each act of violation. 

Some committee members were concerned that the bill would force people who really could not afford to do so to buy new appliances, but Watts said the standards would only apply to appliances sold after the bill goes into effect in July 2023. 

Because energy efficiency technology changes and evolves each year, the bill is written to allow the state flexibility to adapt its guidelines rather than needing to revisit the statute every two years.

Watts said he is still working on amendments with the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association as it disagrees about the fireplace standards in the bill, which are based on Canada’s fireplace standard because the U.S. lacks such standards. 

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Legislature. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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