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Massachusetts, U.S. Considers Appliance Energy Efficiency Proposal
Mar 3, 2005
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Gas furnaces, commercial washing machines, and 15 other appliances would be replaced with more efficient versions of the products under Massachusetts, U.S. state legislation aimed at curbing pollution and reducing energy expenses.

Supporters say the proposal would save consumers and businesses U.S. $2 billion by 2030. The bill would require 17 products sold in Massachusetts in 2007 or later to meet strict efficiency standards similar to those in place in several other U.S. states, including California, Connecticut, and Maryland.

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG), one of the bill's architects, is conducting a statewide campaign in which students at 15 colleges demonstrate at traffic lights to rally support for the legislation. The campaign is picking up at the same time many electric consumers are beginning to see rate increases under the state's utility deregulation process.

A majority of U.S. House members supported a previous version of the bill that stalled last year in the Ways and Means Committee after passing the Joint Committee on Energy, said Frank Gorke, a MassPIRG energy advocate. "We expect hearings in March or April. We'd love to see the bill passed as soon as possible so we can see the savings as soon as possible," he said.

The list of products that would have to meet stricter efficiency standards under the bill includes large packaged air-conditioners, unit heaters, commercial clothes washers, commercial ice makers, and residential gas furnaces.

For all 17 products listed, there are already alternatives on the market that meet the standards MassPIRG is proposing, Mr. Gorke said. The efficient versions cost more, but save money in the long run because they lower energy costs, he said. "This bill would eliminate those wasteful products which are bad for the consumers, bad for our environment, and bad for our economy," Mr. Gorke said.

Manufacturers who make the newer, efficient products stand to gain from the legislation, Mr. Gorke said. But there is also opposition from the business community. Brian Gilmore, spokesman for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said additional regulation will make products more expensive and that efficiency standards should be determined solely by the federal government.

"The trouble with that is we're only one state out of 50. How do you police this?" Mr. Gilmore said. "We'd be much better off having federal standards than having 50 different standards." (MetroWest Daily News)

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