US bill declares "lights out" on inefficient lighting

Press release from the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has introduced legislation to phase out older-style light bulbs and replace them with newer ones that burn just as brightly but use much less energy. When fully implemented, the switch to more efficient light bulbs will save Americans up to $6 billion a year in electricity costs.

“The Energy Efficient Lighting for a Brighter Tomorrow Act (S. 2017) provides a reasonable process for light bulb manufacturers to plan for and implement major changes,” Sen. Bingaman said. “For 125 years, the world has used the same old lighting technologies. When fully implemented, the new standard will save nearly as much energy as all of the Federal appliance standards from 1987-2000.”

Added Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), an original co-sponsor: “Americans have improved upon nearly all of Thomas Edison's inventions, and this legislation will encourage a new generation of innovators to advance his greatest accomplishment, the light bulb.

“I look forward to working with Sen. Bingaman on getting this bill signed into law -- energy efficient lighting will save consumers billions in energy costs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The next step is looking at how to ensure these innovative new technologies are manufactured by Americans.”

Under Bingaman’s bill, beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2014, the current 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out and replaced by lower wattage bulbs that produce equivalent amounts of light.

By 2014, the traditional incandescent light bulbs found in approximately 4 billion U.S. light sockets will be virtually obsolete, their century-old technology replaced by newer technologies such as LEDs, halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and higher-efficiency incandescent bulbs.

When fully implemented, the new efficiency standards for incandescent lighting will save 88 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year. And, because light bulbs are replaced more often than large appliances, the full savings from light bulb standards will be realized much sooner than savings from longer lifetime appliances. While the newer bulbs cost more than the incandescent bulbs, they last years longer. As a result, consumers will see significant savings on the costs to light their homes and businesses.

Many of the provisions in the bill were negotiated between major lighting manufacturers and efficiency advocates. Philips Lighting initiated the negotiations on phasing out inefficient incandescent lamps (see Philips leads Ban the Bulb call in North America), and Osram Sylvania and General Electric were actively engaged in the process.

Several energy efficiency advocates also participated in the negotiations, including the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sen. Bingaman personally was involved in advancing the negotiations at critical junctures, including several meetings and conversations with key participants. The House-passed energy bill includes similar language on lighting, authored by Representatives Harman and Upton.

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