California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill (AB 1346) that will ban the sale of any engine that produces less than 25 gross horsepower, including new gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, string trimmers and other small off-road engines as early as 2024. New portable gas-powered generators must be zero-emission by 2028.
As OPEB reported in May of this year, Assembly Bill 1346 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to set emissions requirements for small off-road engines to zero by 2024, or whenever CARB determines is feasible. In addition, the bill directs CARB to provide funding to state air districts and offer rebates to commercial users to buy zero-emission equipment.
Retailers will be limited to selling only electric- or battery-powered equipment under the new law.
On its blog, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) states that “…The primary issue with the impending regulation is the failure to acknowledge the differences between commercial and residential uses and take into account the fact that zero-emission equipment is currently not yet comparable to gas-powered SORE [small off-road engines] because of:
- Significantly higher costs
- Performance deficiencies
- Battery compatibility issues
- Lack of adequate infrastructure to support full transition”
Andrew Bray, VP of government relations for NALP, says while the bill has been signed into law, there are still opportunities to change the timeline. NALP is meeting with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Landscape Contractors Association to discuss changing the timing.
NALP also points out that once CARB publishes the rule, there is a 45-day comment period. After the comment period, CARB has time to amend the rule before it goes to a vote, which is projected to take place in the first two weeks of this December.
Dan Debelius, a market analyst with industrial-research group The Freedonia Group, states: “Great strides have been made in battery-powered technology – both with torque and longevity – in recent years that will help make this transition easier. Some professional companies have already begun the transition to electric equipment, partly due to changes in local noise ordinances and consumer interest in sustainable practices and quieter equipment.
“However,” he continues, “as the NALP contends, it will take time and significant investment, as well as continued further technological advances, to get professionals statewide in compliance with the new law.”