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Local legislators work on green tax break

Bill would reward those who buy ‘Energy Star’ products starting next year

Posted: March 28, 2009 12:38 a.m.
Updated: March 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
As a sales tax hike looms next week, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth held a news conference Friday to support a measure offering tax breaks for energy-efficient home, office and commercial products.

Assembly Bill 150, introduced by Smyth in January, would offer a sales and use tax holiday for consumers who purchase “Energy Star” products on April 24, beginning in 2010.

“I think everyone continues to become more energy conscious since we found out about the energy crises years ago,” said Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, standing by “Energy Star” washers and dryers inside Home Depot in Centre Pointe. Civic and business leaders joined him.

“But with the new state of the economy, if consumers can purchase energy-efficient appliances and get a sales tax break, that would benefit economic development and environmental awareness.”

Sales tax is due to go up 1 percent in California beginning April 1.

The tax break proposed by Smyth would apply to products with the government-backed “Energy Star” designation. Home and business products in more than 60 categories would qualify for the one-day-a-year tax break.

The first hearing on Assembly Bill 150 is scheduled for April 20 before the California Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.
Home Depot Store Manager Kim Cherney said the key is consumer awareness.

“Right now we have to educate consumers on the value and the savings of energy efficient products,” said Cherney, adding that Home Depot hosts green awareness clinics on weekends.

Americans who bought Energy Star products prevented the emission of 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas — the amount 23 million vehicles can produce in a year — and saved about $12 billion on their utility bills, according to Energy Star program estimates.

Changing one incandescent light bulb for an energy-efficient compact florescent bulb can save a consumer an average of $46 per year in energy costs, according to Cherney.

Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Deparment of Energy.

The program encompasses products for the home and workplace ranging across the spectrum from appliances, heating and cooling to office equipment, commercial products and more.

Smyth said the bill ultimately seeks to “strike a balance in helping consumers, the business community and meeting our environmental goals.”


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