Skip to main content

The State of California has set the wheels in motion for a significant shift in the way mobile operations, including those in film and TV production, are powered. In October 2021, California State Assembly Bill 1346 was signed into law marking a pivotal moment in the industry’s reliance on traditional fossil fuel generators. The legislation aims to curb harmful emissions by prohibiting the purchase of equipment, categorized as small off-road engines (SOREs), in California starting January 1, 2024 and fully implemented by 2028.

Understanding AB 1346

AB 1346 addresses the environmental impact of small off-road engines, encompassing not just generators but also other gasoline, propane, or natural gas fueled equipment like leaf blowers, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and pressure washers. The law does not ban the operation of such equipment, but tightly regulates their purchase within the state of California. SOREs using diesel fuel, and stationary generators are exempt from these regulations (for now). This move is a step towards achieving the goal of zero emissions by 2035 and transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2045.

gas powered equipment covered by the California Generator Ban
Gas-powered lawnmowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, and portable generators are affected. (Source: CARB)

This legislative shift holds significant implications for the future of movie and TV production in California, especially those relying on portable generators on sets and events. Planning for this transition is crucial, prompting the media and entertainment industry to explore cleaner, more sustainable alternatives.

A Push Towards Clean Energy

The focus on SOREs, including generators, stems from their significant contribution to environmental pollution.

According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the emissions from operating a commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving a new light-duty passenger car about 300 miles – about the distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, over four hours of drive time.

Analysts expect the impact of small engine emissions to double that of passenger cars by 2031 in the Greater Los Angeles area.

While generators may not have the widespread environmental impact of their lawn equipment counterparts, they are still substantial contributors to air pollution. This legislative action prompts people to reconsider their power sources and embrace cleaner alternatives.

What’s the Alternative?

With a ban on new gas-powered generators, the question arises: what alternative power sources are available for on-location productions? Relying on the mechanical reliability of existing generators may not be a sustainable long-term solution. Generators are notorious for mechanical failures, a fact well-known to operators who often employ two or three backup generators as standard practice for major events.

Operating only where reliable grid power is available may seem like an option, but it limits the mobility and spontaneity essential to events and location productions. This is where innovative battery power solutions like Anton/Bauer’s Salt-E Dog sodium sustainable power solution come into play.

Salt-E Dog: A Sustainable Power Solution

Anton/Bauer’s sodium-based Salt-E Dog offers a clean, quiet, and efficient power solution that eliminates the downsides associated with traditional generators.

It offers an environmentally friendly and quiet solution, while also providing reliable power for remote and on-location productions.

Recharging Salt-E Dog from the grid or renewable sources like solar PV panels is an option for filmmakers and producers, providing flexibility and sustainability.

The advantages of battery power sources extend beyond meeting regulatory requirements. They offer a consistent and reliable power source without the mechanical intricacies associated with generators. The need for backup generators becomes obsolete, reducing the logistical challenges of transporting and maintaining multiple units.

A Focus on Health and Sustainability

Beyond the environmental impact, health considerations are emerging as a driving force behind additional restrictions on the purchase and operation of generators. According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), generators are the product associated with the highest number of carbon monoxide-related fatalities, claiming an average of 80 lives annually in the United States. This sobering statistic has fueled a growing interest in banning generators, not just in California but nationwide, several cities, including Washington DC, are moving to ban small off-road engines. Elsewhere in the world, Canadian lawmakers in British Columbia, are pushing to remove generators from film production, and in India, Delhi’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) saw diesel generators banned from operating in the city on 89 days in 2023 due to poor air quality.

As governments around the globe roll out climate action plans and additional restrictions loom on the horizon, making the switch to battery power isn’t just a suggestion—it’s a must. This shift isn’t limited to just the film and TV production sector; it’s a vital move for the broader entertainment industry.  Music festivals, for example, are striving for greater sustainability. They’ve begun ditching generators, the famous Coachella campsite gaining recognition for going generator-free. This move reflects a broader trend towards cleaner and quieter alternatives, marking a necessary change for the industry at large.

Preparing for the Future

As the landscape of power generation undergoes a seismic shift, filmmakers and producers must proactively embrace cleaner and more sustainable alternatives. The California Generator Ban is not an isolated event but a precursor to a global trend towards environmentally conscious production practices.

Honda, one of the biggest players in the gas generator market recently announced that it would cease manufacturing gas-powered lawnmowers and other equipment from September 2023 stating that “The decision was driven by stricter environmental regulations.” Makita Corporation have taken a similar stance, discontinuing all engine products “in response to the heightened awareness of global environmental issues.”

The advantages of battery power are clear: reduced environmental impact, enhanced reliability, and a quieter operation. Anton/Bauer’s Salt-E Dog stands as a testament to the potential of battery technology in transforming the on-location production experience.

In navigating this developing landscape, the film, and TV industry must be at the forefront of adopting innovative and eco-friendly solutions. Embracing battery power isn’t just a response to legislation; it’s a strategic move towards a future where productions are not only visually stunning but also environmentally responsible.

So, as fossil fuel generators go the way of the dinosaurs, it’s time to usher in a new age of filmmaking—one powered by clean, efficient, and forward-thinking energy solutions. The future of TV and movie production is electric, and it’s time to power up for the journey ahead.

Our Brands