Rhode Island Legislature Adopts Energy Efficiency Bill to Cut Costs for Consumers and Businesses


Contact: Marianne DiMascio, mdimascio@standardsASAP.org, 603-340-1352

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island legislature adopted an appliance efficiency bill today that is a triple win for the state. The bill will cut energy and water waste, save consumers and businesses money on utility bills, and help Rhode Island meet the state’s Act on Climate goal to deeply cut the state’s carbon emissions.

From 2023 to 2035, the efficiency measures in H5966/S0399 are expected to reduce climate change emissions by 256,000 metric tons, an amount equivalent to taking 56,000 cars off the road for a year. Consumers and businesses will save $10 million on utility bills annually beginning in 2025, growing to $44 million per year in 2035.

The House and Senate companion bills, sponsored by Representative Art Handy and Senator Susan Sosnowski respectively, set minimum efficiency standards for 15 household and commercial products, including gas fireplaces, restaurant equipment, water coolers, and showerheads.

The House and Senate each voted to adopt their respective appliance standards bills in June. Today each chamber amended the bills to be identical and the amended bills will advance to governor’s desk. If the bill is signed by the governor, Rhode Island will become the 10th jurisdiction, along with Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, DC, to adopt a package of efficiency standards since 2018.

The bill passage follows many years of effort by Representative Handy, who has sponsored a version of the current bill nearly every year since 2013, and Senator Sosnowski, who has sponsored or co-sponsored the Senate bill since 2018.

Representative Art Handy, sponsor of the House bill said, "As the sponsor of the 2005 and 2006 appliance standards laws, I'm pleased that we've added new product standards that will cut utility bills and reduce emissions. Consumers and businesses will have more money in their pockets—beginning with $10 million annually in 2025 and increasing to $44 million per year in 2035. It's a policy that keeps on giving. And special thanks to Environment and Natural Resources Chair David Bennett for his support of the bill."

Senator Sosnowski, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee said, “I supported this legislation both because it has local benefits for Rhode Islanders and because it positions the state as a national leader in the energy efficiency field. We need to put our collective attention on climate change and embracing energy efficiency is one way to do that.”

Kai Salem, policy coordinator at the Green Energy Consumers Alliance said, “Rhode Island needs to take actions like the one in this bill to meet the emission reduction targets in our new Act on Climate. As a consumer-based organization, we are happy to also see the lower energy bills that will come from the legislation. It’s an example of how the economy can benefit from climate action.”

“Appliance efficiency standards are the unsung hero of energy policy,” said Marianne DiMascio, state policy manager at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Day after day, without most people even noticing, these state standards save consumers money and cut carbon emissions.”

"Rhode Island's strong new appliance efficiency standards are a big win-win for consumers and the environment," said Chuck Bell, programs director for Consumer Reports. "The new standards will help ensure the appliances used by consumers and businesses will require less water and energy to operate, while saving $10 million a year for ratepayers each year. We commend the sponsors and supporters for their vision and tenacity in getting this important bill to the finish line."

“The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) appreciates the commitment of the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader, Chairman Bennett, Rep Handy, and Senator Sosnowski in pushing this pro-business legislation across the finish line,” said Jason Davidson, PHTA director of government relations. “The mandate for portable electric spas to meet the ANSI/APSP/ICC-14 requirements eases a tremendous burden for hot tub manufacturers in the great state of Rhode Island,” Davidson continued.


Note: This press release has been corrected to reflect that estimated savings accrue over 2023 - 2035 and that the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions savings are equivalent to taking 56,000 cars off the road for a year. Also, each legislative chamber amended its bill to make them identical to one another.

Representative Art Handy has represented District 18 in Cranston since he was first elected in November 2002. He was named a deputy majority leader in January 2021. He is the first vice chair of the House Innovation, Internet, and Technology Committee and is a member of the House Oversight, the Environment and Natural Resources, and the Health and Human Services Committees.

Senator Sosnowski has represented District 37 in New Shoreham and South Kingston since 1996. She is the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Commerce and a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Labor.

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project organizes and leads a broad-based coalition effort that works to advance, win, and defend new appliance, equipment and lighting standards that deliver large energy and water savings, monetary savings, and environmental benefits.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit member organization that works side by side with consumers for truth, transparency, and fairness in the marketplace.

Green Energy Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit whose mission is to harness the power of energy consumers to speed the transition to a low-carbon future.

The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer and keeping pools open to serve communities. 

UPDATE (July 19, 2020): Governor McKee signed the appliance standards legislation into law on Friday, July 16th.