Senate Bill 398 would codify "consensus" energy efficency standards that equipment manufacturers, environmental organizations, and consumer groups have agreed to. The Georgia Tea Party opposes the bill, arguing that it would have a "negative impact on the economy."
Last week, the Department of Energy went ahead and finalized a set of consensus standards for home refrigerators and freezers. The standards are based on an agreement that appliance manufacturers and environmental groups jointly filed with agency last year.
What sort of "negative impact" would the new standards have on the economy when they take effect with 2014 appliance models? Fridges going to market in three years will be about 25 percent more energy-efficient than today's models. The standards will save consumers a net $28 billion to $36 billion over 30 years.
During that 30-year time span, the standards will squeeze out energy waste equivalent to about 5 percent of total energy consumed in the United States in one year for all purposes. Saving energy reduces unhealthy air pollution because energy not generated means coal not burned.
Let's make this more concrete for individuals. A 25-cubic-foot refrigerator with a side-mounted freezer that meets 2014 standards will use 624 kilowatt-hours per year. If your utility charges you around 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, that refrigerator will cost you $70 per year to operate. Now, compare the 2014 fridge with one of its 1978 ancestors. That beast uses 2,951 kilowatt-hours annually, costing you $340 per year for power.
Plus, the '78 clunker would have cost you more to purchase in constant dollars. Plus it didn't have any of those nifty features today's refrigerators offer, such as through-the-door ice service.
Let's make this more concrete for the Georgia Tea Party. Refrigerators meeting 2014 standards will cost Georgians about $52 more per unit, but buyers will recoup the higher cost in four years. Energy savings after the fourth year will be pure gravy. Since refrigerators last an average of 17 years, that's years of energy savings that will be money in the owners' pockets to spend on goods and services, which will create jobs for fellow Georgians.
Such as the workers employed at the GE plant in Decatur, Georgia, which has already geared up to build the improved models. The Georgia Tea Party should ask those plant workers if refrigerator efficiency standards will have a "negative impact" on the economy.
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