Pennsylvania House Passes Landmark Bill Setting Appliance Efficiency Standards

Pennsylvania state capitolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved House Bill 1615 on Tuesday. Introduced by State Reps. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Delaware County) and Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin County), the bipartisan bill proposes minimum efficiency standards for a range of household and commercial appliances and plumbing fixtures sold in Pennsylvania.

The legislation, which garnered a vote of 102-99, aims to reduce energy and water consumption across the commonwealth by setting efficiency benchmarks for products such as commercial dishwashers, gas fireplaces, residential ventilating fans, toilets, and more. If signed into law, these standards could lead to significant financial savings for residents and businesses while concurrently slashing climate pollution.

State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, a vocal advocate for the bill, highlighted the six-year effort to get the legislation passed, emphasizing the straightforward approach to reducing Pennsylvanians’ carbon footprint through improved appliance efficiency. Similarly, Flora Cardoni, Field Director for PennEnvironment, lauded the policy as a “small but mighty” means of fostering energy conservation, lowering pollution levels, and delivering substantial savings to consumers and businesses alike.

Projected benefits of the efficiency standards outlined in HB1615 by 2030 are noteworthy. They include powering over 56,000 homes annually with the saved energy, cutting carbon emissions by 384,000 metric tons—the equivalent of removing over 85,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road—and conserving 9.6 billion gallons of water. Additionally, the bill is expected to reduce consumer utility bills by nearly $300 million annually, with potential savings reaching up to $600 million per year by 2040.

Rep. Tom Mehaffie expressed concern over the rising utility bills burdening central Pennsylvania families, stating that the bill’s adoption of high-efficiency appliances could mitigate these financial pressures.

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With over 50 co-sponsors from across the state, HB1615 now advances to the Pennsylvania Senate, where Senator Lindsey Williams leads its companion legislation (SB 755). Williams pointed out the timely nature of the bill amidst utility rate increase proposals affecting Allegheny County residents, emphasizing the potential of efficient appliances to lower utility usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The passage of HB1615 represents a pivotal step toward achieving energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in Pennsylvania. By setting appliance efficiency standards, the state positions itself as a leader in the national effort to combat climate change, highlighting the power of policy to effect tangible improvements in energy conservation, economic savings, and environmental health.

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