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A water war in Southwest Utah has ranchers and Native tribes concerned, federal solar subsidies could help communities transition to renewable energy, and Starbucks workers attempt to unionize.

ID Lawmakers Push for Closer Oversight of Energy Building Codes


Monday, March 7, 2022   

Idaho lawmakers want more control over building codes that regulate energy efficiency.

The standards cover things like the efficiency of appliances and how windows are insulated in residential and commercial buildings, and are updated every three years.

Legislators want to lock the 2018 codes into statute so that any changes must be approved by the House, Senate and governor. The construction industry has voiced support for the move, saying energy-efficiency requirements make homes more costly.

But Jonathan Oppenheimer, the external relations director at the Idaho Conservation League, said it's important to keep up with standards.

"They help reduce the cost every month to homeowners for utilities in their homes, and in their businesses," said Oppenheimer. "And by applying some of the modern technologies and best practices we can save homeowners and renters and business owners hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year."

Oppenheimer said energy-efficiency codes also help reduce carbon emissions from a sector that is producing an increasing share of overall emissions.

House Bill 660 passed the House and has moved on to the Senate.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 614, would similarly place lawmakers directly in charge of electrical, mechanical and plumbing codes. Oppenheimer said both bills would ultimately take control away from local governments.

"We've often heard the refrain that 'government closest to the people governs best,'" said Oppenheimer. "But in this case what it is doing, it is saying that the Legislature knows best, and precluding local communities from adopting standards and codes that makes sense for their communities."

Idaho Conservation League says HB 614 could affect ordinances in Boise and Ketchum that require newly constructed single-family homes to be set up for electric-vehicle charging.

Oppenheimer said these ordinances will help reduce costs to retrofit homes as electric vehicles become more prevalent.

HB 614 has also passed the House and is in the Senate.

Disclosure: Idaho Conservation League contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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