Clothesline legislation isn’t as trivial as it appears
Bills to remove bans on drying laundry with the sun and tradewinds, and renewable energy initiatives have made the legislative cut.
When taxpayers hear about legislation dealing with clotheslines, they probably wonder if state lawmakers don't have enough to do. On the surface it seems silly, but enacting a law to allow residents of single-family homes to use the sun and wind to dry their laundry makes sense for energy conservation. The savings in electricity and the potential to decrease polluting gases aren't trivial.
In testimony on a Senate version of a bill that would set aside clothesline bans by homeowners associations and others, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism offered some keen insight.
The agency estimates that if just 20,000 households reduced tumble-drying by half, spending for oil at $90 a barrel would shrink by $1.7 million a year. Individual homeowners on Oahu could see annual savings of about $250 on their power bills, while neighbor island residents who pay more for electricity could see bigger savings.
Homeowners associations and development companies that set rules for "planned communities" object to the legislation, claiming that clothes hanging from lines in yards knock down property values and create unsightly views. However, because the bill would allow reasonable restrictions on location of clotheslines, particularly to assure access to and from a dwelling, there are no reasons to bar residents from easy conservation measures, which are often overlooked in energy-saving efforts.
Other energy legislation still in the works includes a proposal to expand net metering, the process by which renewable energy generated by utility customers themselves is absorbed by electric companies. As more residents and commercial customers invest in renewable energy, the program needs to increase in tandem. This measure should win approval.
Likewise a bill to provide rebates to lower-income residents who install solar water heaters. Currently, residents receive tax credits for solar heaters, but those who can't afford them don't benefit. The bill would let those with annual taxable incomes of less than $20,000 participate.
Friday, March 14, 2008
A bill that would require all new homes in Hawaii to be equipped with solar or renewable energy devices to heat water remains alive in the state Legislature. Originally, this editorial said the measure, SB 644, had not made a key legislative deadline for passage this year.
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