New light bulb standards withstand last-minute attack

If you’ve read about the repeal of the lighting standards – don’t believe the hype. The 2012 lighting standards will proceed as planned, despite some nasty shenanigans afoot in DC.

Late Thursday night, Republicans in Congress – contrary to public desire – inserted a last-minute rider in the federal omnibus spending package in an effort to thwart better bulbs. 

Luckily, they didn’t do it all that well.  The legislative rider pertains only to funding for federal enforcement of federal lighting standards for this fiscal year.  It’s shameful that Republicans would stand in the way of enforcing American laws.  But the rider does not in any way repeal or change the energy efficient lighting standards for bulb manufacturers.

So here’s the bottom line, the standards are moving forward unabated and we are still on pace to save $12 billion per year in the form of lower electric bills and prevent the need for 30 large power plants and all the pollution they generate.

Manufacturers are still making bulbs that meet the energy efficiency standards and consumers are still buying them. In survey after survey, consumers and consumer groups say they want more efficient light bulbs that don’t waste 90 percent of their energy.

And despite what you may have heard from some in Congress, the lighting industry wholeheartedly supports these efficiency standards, and DOES NOT support this rider. Manufacturers have invested millions of dollars retrofitting and expanding plants right here in the United States and hiring new workers to meet the new standards. See here for more information from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents 95 percent of the lighting industry.

It’s mind boggling that a handful of politicians would try to stand in the way of these standards and try to block consumers from saving money by reducing their electricity bills. And let’s be clear; incandescent light bulbs are not going away due to the standard, they are just getting better.  The new incandescent bulbs that meet the standard – and there are already many of them on the market -- l use almost 30% less power and look and perform exactly like the old ones.   So if you like the look of old-fashioned bulbs, no problem – the new efficient incandescent bulbs are just the same, but will also save you power and money.


In the end, this rider has nothing to with energy efficiency or federal spending or giving Americans what they want. Instead of listening to consumers, manufacturers, environmental groups and others, Republicans in Congress with this rider are simply kowtowing to anti-government Tea Party ideologues who have been fighting against these energy-saving lighting standards for months.

Thank goodness their efforts have failed. 

About the Authors

Kit Kennedy

Director, Energy & Transportation program

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