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SATURDAY, DEC. 5, 2021 — A seemingly innocuous air pollution proposal before the California Legislature could ban the sale of portable generators in the state, and have a crippling effect on RVers who rely on them to power their rigs when shore power is not available.
According to definition of the proposal, the ban could include the use of generators installed in most motorhomes and other motorized RVs. RVers who travel with trailers and fifth wheels would be unable to use portable generators.
What is confusing at the moment is if the bill intends to ban the use of portable generators and/or ban the sale of them beginning in 2024. We will follow up on this tomorrow when state offices open again, and update for next Sunday’s issue.
Assembly Bill 1346 would compel the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations by July 1, 2022, to prohibit emissions from all small off-road engine engines (SORE) including portable generators. While it may be intended to promote the use of battery-operated lawn and garden equipment, it will also result in banning the sale of portable generators in the state as soon as 2024.
(a) (1) By July 1, 2022, the state board shall, consistent with federal law, adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines, as defined by the state board. Those regulations shall apply to engines produced on or after January 1, 2024, or as soon as the state board determines is feasible, whichever is later.
The proposal assumes that portable generators could be replaced with so-called ZEE generators (zero-emission equipment). However, ZEE “generators” rely on battery power and electricity for charging that is not available during power outages and natural disasters. These ZEE units are typically five to twenty times the cost of gasoline-powered portable generators, yet they only provide backup power for a short period of time (typically 1-2 hours) before the battery is discharged. Furthermore, once the batteries are discharged, they cannot be recharged during power outages without expensive solar panels or expensive spare charged batteries.
For these reasons, the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association (PGMA) is requesting an exemption for portable generators be included in the proposal.
An estimated 1.5 million portable generators exist in California, primarily used by residents during natural disasters and during frequent rolling blackouts enacted by local utilities to mitigate demand on the power grid or protect against fire danger.
THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED AT NOON (Pacific time), Sunday, Dec. 5.