How Can Grounds Managers Make the Switch from Gas to Electric Equipment?

Andrew Bray of the NALP explains the coming transition from gas to electric.   February 23, 2023

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

In an effort to curb emissions, California passed a ban on all gas-powered small engines. This ban goes into full effect in 2024, which is only a year away. With crunch time looming for facilities managers and grounds managers to make the change soon, other states and organizations are left wondering if something similar is coming their way.  

To help prep for this potential future switch from gas to electric, Andrew Bray of the National Association of Landscape Professionals will present “From Gas to Electric: The Future of Landscape Maintenance” at the NFMT trade show this March. 

NFMT: What kind of policies could other states expect to see in response to California’s? 

Bray: Since California banned the sale of all gas-powered small engines – essentially including all landscape equipment – and that went forward in December of 2021. Last year we saw about 12 states propose some sort of ban in a similar vein. Whether it be on just leaf blowers or on all equipment, none of them passed outside of California. This year, we've seen about somewhere between eight and 10 states put forward proposals, but to this date none of the others have passed. 

NFMT: What can be done in these policies to incentivize companies to make the switch? 

Bray: We've been supporting a responsible transition, which we believe is more of a carrot vs. stick approach. We think there needs to be adequate funding mechanisms to incentivize small businesses or any business that relies on this equipment for their livelihood. Those incentives can come in the form of either a rebate program or a tax credit. However, there's pluses and minuses to both, I think. We don't really have a preferred model at this point – we just want to make sure that there are some incentive programs in place. 

NFMT: How are you working to make sure these new policies protect the interests of the grounds care industry? 

Bray: We're fighting against these outright bans. We fought against California and although we lost it, we secured some funding, but it was not nearly as much as we needed. So, at this point in all these other states we've won and we've been defending the industry by explaining that we support this transition. We're not trying to resist it. Instead, we're just asking for additional time and resources. That message seems to be resonating fairly well.  

We actually do workshops with another with other folks where we invite policymakers to come and see this electric equipment.  This is where we also discussed some of the challenges and impediments, however, we're making progress regardless. We're trying to make sure that our message is rational and so far, it's been working. 

NFMT: What are some first steps organizations can take to make the transition? 

Bray: I think the first steps you can do is talk to your representatives — the manufacturers or your dealers — to do personal investigation. Go touch and feel the equipment, or see if you can demo the equipment. Start planning for it, a lot of this equipment is going to require the way you charge the equipment. Think of the investments you would need to make for your shop to have the right sort of electrical grid.  

So, I think the first thing people need to do is start thinking about it and then start planning for it. Since the reality is that it's coming. Just sitting there hoping it doesn't come to you in the next year or two, that allows your competition to get ahead of you. I think it's planning and starting to think about it. 

Register for NFMT Baltimore here

Jeff Wardon Jr. is the assistant editor of the facility market. 


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