Reddy Kilowatt and almost everyone else supported the proposed National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1986. It passed Congress unanimously with the extraordinary support of appliance makers, conservationists, big utilities and even the Department of Energy. The chairman of the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Assn. said that the bill "makes everyone a winner."
But this good-news story ended abruptly at the White House door when President Reagan killed the measure with a pocket veto. Puzzled and angry supporters of the bill could only conclude that the veto was one of pure ideology. Whatever the reason, the new Congress should promptly pass the bill again.
In his veto message the President said that the legislation would dictate energy-efficiency standards for home appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners without regard to technological feasibility or economic justification.
In fact, the benefits of such standards have been amply demonstrated in California, where they have existed for nearly 10 years. Other states have followed California's lead. The new appliances use 25% to 50% less energy than older models do.The federal law would have saved consumers an estimated $28 billion over the life of appliances sold in the next 20 years, and eliminated the need for the equivalent of 22 new electric-power units.