DOE policy expected to remove general service lamp exemptions (UPDATED)

Dec. 7, 2021
The Natural Resources Defense Council has announced that the US Department of Energy’s latest regulatory update proposes a 45-lm/W efficacy standard for all general service lamps, and closes a ‘loophole’ on inefficient incandescent products.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) lamps policy is back in the headlines as President Biden’s administration has released “a pre-publication version of a proposed rule that would greatly advance the energy efficiency of the nation’s light bulbs,” as reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental activist organization, in a blog post today by energy-efficiency advocate Joe Vukovich.

LEDs Magazine has covered multiple swings of the US lamps policy pendulum in recent years. In early 2019, we reported that the DOE planned to alter the definition of “general service lamps” at the urging of some solid-state lighting (SSL) manufacturers with interests backed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). This change under the DOE, during the Trump administration, was intended to roll back efficacy requirements that would have required a conversion of more lamp types including reflector, decorative, and specialty lamps to LED sources in 2020.

Later in the fall of 2019, it was announced that DOE policy influencing the conversion of the common A-lamp (pear-shaped lamp) form factor to LEDs would remain, but reflector lamps, candelabra- and globe-shaped lamps would not be categorized as general service lamps thereby excluding them from the more stringent efficiency guidelines (and thus allowing less-efficient incumbent sources to remain in play). In turn, multiple environmental coalitions brought suits against the DOE, challenging the decision to forego enforcing the more stringent energy-efficiency policy for specialty replacement lamps.

As 2020 came into focus, the state of California earned an environmental win by enforcing the proposed 45-lm/W efficacy minimum for all lamp types, while the NRDC initiated a second suit against the DOE in a push to re-establish the proposed A-lamp efficacy standards. Much as we anticipated, by summer of 2021, the change in administration essentially reversed the GSL efficacy policy.

Today, Vukovich wrote that a newly proposed DOE rule “will require all so-called ‘general service lamps’ or GSLs think general, everyday light bulbs to meet an efficiency threshold of 45 lumens per watt (LPW),” following a rule proposed in November that would remove exemptions from the GSL definition “and [enlarge] the scope of coverage of the standard.”

He cited analysis from the Appliance Standards Awareness project in observing that “Swift implementation of these rules is projected to result in $20 billion in cumulative utility bill savings for consumers and 50 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions by 2030.”

You can read the full blog on the NRDC website, and view a copy of the proposed action from the DOE as a PDF from the agency’s website.

CARRIE MEADOWS is associate editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

*Updated Dec. 8, 2021 9:58 AM for correction of Natural Resources Defense Council name. LEDs Magazine regrets the error.

For up-to-the-minute LED and SSL updates, why not follow us on Twitter? You’ll find curated content and commentary, as well as information on industry events, webcasts, and surveys on our LinkedIn Company Page and our Facebook page.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.