Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Could Have Unintended Consequences in Next Power Outage

Californians who have been seen power supplies become more unreliable in recent years have increasingly turned to gas-powered electric generators to keep the lights on during “public safety power shutoffs.”

According to the industry trade group, there are 1.5 million portable generators in use in California today.  The average gas-powered generator can provide 10-12 hours of power to run lights, phone chargers, refrigerators, microwaves and more, with a simple refueling keeping them powered another half-day.

But gas-powered portable generators may be on the outs in California under legislation passed last week and placed on Gov. Newsom’s desk.

According to the Assembly Floor Analysis, Assembly Bill 1346 would “require the Air Resources Board to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new ‘small off-road engines.’”  It’s another example of a well-meaning bill that would generate serious unintended consequences if it becomes law.

The industry trade group notes that zero-emission power generators wouldn’t work very well in lengthy power shutoffs as current models only have the capacity to run the lights, appliances and technology listed above for between 35 minutes and 3 hours.  In addition, they can’t be recharged very easily during outages without expensive solar panels or backup batteries.

The Senate Floor Analysis of AB 1346 also notes that “while portable power stations such as the popular Goal Zero Yeti can provide power without any associated noise or emissions from the unit, they are ultimately constrained by battery capacity.”  These alternatives “can also be five to twenty times the cost of fossil-fuel powered options.”

Joseph Harding, technical director of the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association, says that “when someone turns to a portable generator, it’s out of necessity . . . (to) keep food from spoiling, keep water available, to maintain communication with the outside world, even keep vital medical equipment operating.”

Measures like AB 1346 are examples of the state making big policy changes and imposing sweeping new mandates at a time when technology and the marketplace just haven’t caught up yet.  As much as they try, policymakers can’t dictate people’s buying habits or the evolution of technology by passing a bill.  And when policymakers go down this road, it is ultimately consumers and entrepreneurs who will pay the price.

And as noted in PRI’s “Legislating Energy Poverty” study, California’s big government energy mandates also haven’t proven very successful in lowering emissions compared to other states with more market-based energy policies who have achieved greater reductions than the once-Golden State.

AB 1346 would also have a negative impact on entrepreneurship.  As PRI’s Wayne Winegarden writes in his upcoming final study in the Breaking Down Barriers to Entrepreneurship series, new government regulations as envisioned in the bill are typical of the regulations that make it so difficult for individuals to start or grow a gardening business in California.

It would make it difficult and more expensive for lawn businesses to operate.  For example, there are many battery-powered leaf blowers on the market today for commercial use.  However, a review by The Spruce of the “8 best cordless leaf blowers of 2021” notes that some models have “hard to find replacement batteries” while the “battery takes a long time to recharge” for others.  The Assembly Floor Analysis of AB 1346 notes, “for commercial uses, there is very little market for zero-emission equipment as today’s technology is relatively expensive and requires multiple batteries and/or frequent recharting and replacement.”

A June Washington Post article on the push for battery-powered lawn equipment described how a Florida-based landscaping firm has “its landscaping vans . . . outfitted with solar panels to recharge the batters on the go” at a conversion cost of $100,000 per van.  The firm’s president says customers are charged “10 to 20 percent more than his competitors.”

Californians now await Newsom’s verdict to see if they’ll have to go out of state to buy a gas-powered generator or will have to sit in the dark the next time the power goes out.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

This article was originally published by Pacific Research Institute.

Comments

  1. John the Patriot says

    See what you get California voters? How is that voting “No on the Right Wing Republican Recall” working out for you? You can’t fix stupid!

  2. They have been banned for years but never enforced. Why all the drama today? I have had to endure years of loud blowing sounds next to my residence while the commercial building cleans thousands of square footage for hours on end starting at 6am every other day including weekends and holidays. No one will enforce the rules because namely no one cares and there aren’t enough city or county schlubs to come out and write a warning and then ticket. The building could care less. Also my democratic neighbors would be up in arms for something they voted for being enforced where their illegal alien gardener (that they do not take taxes out of paycheck) plugs into their electric outlet. God forbid this should happen the progressives would be up in a druthers. All morons who vote for crap and then never want it enforced. Virtue signaling they do best. Just look at their inventions, new light bulbs with mercury in them, lasts a long time but people won’t dispose of properly throwing them into the landfills now we have a huge amount in our soil. Low flush toilets you have to flush five times to get rid of the waste, not saving any water if you left alone with older system, one flush. Their ideas are crap, sounds good on paper never gains under fruition.

    • DENNIS WOLLEN says

      EVERYTHING……AND I MEAN ‘EVERYTHING’……..COMMUNIST DEMOCRATS TOUCH
      TURNS TO ‘SHIDT’………PERIOD…..!!!!!!!!!!!

      AND YES……I’M ‘SHOUTING…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I am already seeing yard maintenance going downhill. Each of these Democrat edicts has ended up in a downward slide for America. Now the look today is toward the retirement funds that those wise enough to have are going to be limited or drained, if the politicians have their way. An additional source of give away money. Third World Nation HERE WE COME!!!!! Can you think of ANY aspect of our society having control by the people? You will find few, if any, out there.

  4. If this becomes “law” ignore it and, make a focus to ignore any “law” the communist democrats pass that infringes on your freedom. Resist in every way possible.

  5. It sounds like another power grab, no pun intended. Where’s the statewide analysis of real “air pollution” from gas-powered generators and leaf blowers, per usage, per machine? Remember when CA tried to “ban” charcoal BBQ grills for the same “air pollution” reasons?
    If CA Assembly has nothing better than leaf blowers and generators to worry about, they’re not looking hard enough for broken things to fix, in this state.

  6. When are Ca folks going to stand up to the “so called” leaders in Ca……. They combined with CARB and Slow Joe are DESTROYING our state by being bought and paid for by Unelected B-Crats that really run the show with personal agendas that continue to lean Green and Left.. Elected’s come and go, but the staff just gets recycled to another Liberal Dem. Sad We The People take this year in and year out and do nothing. Not all, but most whine, complain and give their rights away.
    3rd world electric grid, no water storage for decades have been built, fires due to ENVIRONMENTALIST power and regulatory control to save the earth while pay out the A** over and over, nutso taxes and the continued FEE process for just about everything, and a mentally retarded governor running the show…… ZERO effort to flat out shut down the southern border, let alone paying everybody that gets in with U name it, while vets suffer.. With Gruesom winning, the Socialist Democrats just screwed the pooch, aka US!
    God help us. PS, Just got the so called “Fair Plan” Home Insurance with lousy coverage, $10K Deductible, and a $4500 price tag…….

  7. Chris Renner says

    This is all according to plan. Electric lawnmowers suck (or rather they don’t suck) and generally electric anything just lacks power. (I tried an electric lawnmower and it was the single worst mowing experience of my life.) I will say that electric edgers work fine. The Greens and the Dems want to limit water use and eliminate gas powered anything so they take away gas lawnmowers, landscapers charge double because yardscaping takes twice the time. They outlaw lawn and plant watering People refuse to pay and stop watering their lawns. Some convert to desert landscaping while others sell to developers who use SB9 and SB10 to convert houses to fourplexes. Long term, greens reduce water use, compact living space, encourage neighbors to tattle, destroy the environment, and voila, Californastan!

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