By Diane M. Calabrese / Published February 2022
Nothing is more welcome than good news, and the following is a short account of some good news for members of the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA):
The deadline for sales of new pressure washers powered by small off-road gas-combustion engines (precisely defined as non-road spark ignition engines that operate at or below 19 kilowatts) to meet zero-emission standards in California is January 1, 2028.
The deadline had been January 1, 2024. Efforts by CETA members have been instrumental in gaining four additional years for research, design, and manufacturing of the best battery-electric-powered pressure washers possible. Let’s review their efforts, which are ongoing (because there’s more to do, always).
The efforts provide an excellent example of how important engagement with regulators is. They also illustrate the depth and breadth of the support that CETA members receive from their colleagues, who in this case are those who leapt in and engaged with regulators to inform and suggest alternatives.
Our compressed and essentially chronological account begins with a CETA member who is anchored in the state where it all began.
“‘Blanket elimination’ of small gas engines is not a constructive solution…” wrote Jim O’Connell in a letter to his customers regarding the 2020 Executive Order AB1346 from Governor Newsom. Of course, O’Connell, the president of Hotsy Pacific in Modesto, CA, refers to the essence of the order: sales of new internal-combustion engine powered vehicles and equipment to end by 2035.
Thirteen years is a long time. But the provisions of the executive order begin to pile up a lot earlier.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has authority to formulate regulations under the 2020 order. And on October 09, 2021, it set zero-emission as a limit for small off-road engines (SORE), which immediately pulled in our industry. Moreover, it set the limit for as early as January 1, 2024, which would mean no combustion engines on sales of new pressure washers after that date.
(Note: See the December 2021 Cleaner Times article on SORE for the basics via https://www.cleanertimes.com/magazine/cleaner-times-articles-2/small-off-road-engines-sore-the-basics/.)
By October 12, 2021, the CETA board of directors initiated a response. A committee dedicated to keeping pace with SORE, communicating with CARB, and informing membership began to take shape. First and foremost, the committee’s aim was to be fully involved in the rule-making process at CARB.
R. Calvin Rasmussen, the president and CEO at Royce Industries L.C., West Jordan, UT, chairs the SORE Committee. (All committee members, who have given countless hours to ensuring CARB has a complete understanding of equipment manufactured by our industry and its importance to health and safety, are listed at the end of this text.)
Even before a specific committee formed, Jimmy Welch, the chair of the CETA Technical Committee, was looking ahead to the ramifications of SORE. Welch is a team member at American Pressure Inc. in Robbinsdale, MN.
With that background, let’s look at where we are with SORE (as we write in late December 2021). To do so, we will amplify perspectives from O’Connell, who is anchored in the Golden State; Rasmussen, who heads the committee; and Welch, who keeps pace with all things technical for CETA.
In his letter to customers, which he copied to CARB, O’Connell suggests they can help inform legislators about the importance of small gas engines. An elimination of small gas engines, he explains, would be a one-size-fits-all approach to an effort that requires a more tailored approach.
“Pressure washers are an integral part of companies, schools, and municipalities for cleaning, sanitizing, and maintaining premises to ensure safe and clean environments for the public, children, and employees,” wrote O’Connell. An abrupt end to efficient internal-combustion powered pressure washers would remove a highly efficient tool from efforts to maintain hygienic settings.
“We were able to get the CARB staff and the board to listen to our issues, and they have since allowed us more time to comply, along the same lines as they had specified for the generator industry,” says O’Connell. (The generator industry was given a date of January 1, 2028.) Good news, but the hard work for the committee, which spent six intense weeks in late autumn on the issue, continues.
The intensity of the work completed to date includes providing comment at a CARB public hearing on SORE. Rasmussen did that on December 9, 2021. His candor included a statement our readers know well, “as goes California so goes the country.”
In his comments Rasmussen emphasized the utility and importance of industrial pressure washers in all sectors of the economy. Indeed, he took the opportunity to remind CARB about the many ways that agencies in California use pressure washers to “clean, disinfect, and sanitize everything from homeless encampments to playground equipment, from graffiti removal to disaster clean-up sites.”
Rasmussen cites the zero-emission equipment (ZEE) goal of AB1346 as one that would benefit from context and conditional implementation. For instance, although there are at present battery-powered pressure washers (67 percent of residential market), they are not suitable for professional use.
Results of efforts to date speak to the positive importance of give and take. Small gas-combustion engines used on pressure washers will be able to follow the same new reduced (exhaust and evaporative) emissions regulations as generators until January 1, 2028. (See the SORE tab at the CETA.org website for details and links: https://ceta.org/news/sore-2021/.) Then, they will be expected to meet the ZEE expectations.
Four extra years give members of our industry significant time to design and manufacture equipment that qualifies as ZEE and simultaneously maintains its potency for accomplishing cleaning projects thoroughly and efficiently. Rasmussen and Welch in a letter to CETA members guarantee there is still work to be done.
And Welch explains some of the complexities that contribute to tasks ahead. For one, CARB is pushing electrification as a mechanism for reaching ZEE goals.
In designing pressure washers to meet ZEE, manufacturers must also consider the availability of a power source. “The power grid has a lot of limitations—for example 120-volt…” says Welch. Gasoline engines allow a work around. They also allow operation in areas with no or limited availability of electric power.
“While residential pressure washers can use electrical power—120-volt, for example, and have some battery products—they are still limited in performance,” explains Welch. And he adds the pressure washers captured in the SORE category are a major market segment because of their portability and ability to do all types of essential cleaning.
Still, the activity of the SORE committee and the results it has achieved to date demonstrate the importance of doing instead of fretting. As Rasmussen and Welch wrote in a recent letter to CETA members, not only members of the association but all members of the industry are affected by parameters set by federal, state, and local governments.
Not a CETA member yet? Perhaps today would be a good day to take a few minutes and join. (Inquire via email@example.com.)
The following are SORE Committee members in addition to Rasmussen, Welch, and O’Connell: Al Bonifas (All Spray), Gregg Brodsky (Alkota), Doug Hartley (American Honda), Dave Johnson (Steam Cleaners Inc.), Casey Meelker (Nilfisk/HydroTek), Michael Ricketts (Hotsy of Southern California), Rex Shull (Kärcher North America), Eric Towers (Octo Pro Wash), Trena Williamson (Northern Tool + Equip-ment), and David Wyett (Always Under Pressure).