DOE lighting rollback proposal will cost consumers billions

(NRDC News, 6 Feb 2019) The U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal to dramatically narrow the scope of light bulbs covered by the upcoming federal 2020 energy efficiency standards will cost consumers up to $12 billion on their utility bills and cause up to 25 more coal burning power plants worth of electricity to be generated every year.

This extra electricity use, enough to power all the households in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, translates into 34 million tons of additional annual climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

DOE’s new proposal rolls back most of the definition that was previously updated in early 2017 by DOE under the Obama administration and needlessly provide a lifeline for the inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs designed to go into 2.7 billion sockets—just under half of all conventional sockets in the United States—even though more energy efficient models exist today. Now, instead of the energy-wasting versions being phased out as scheduled, 3-way bulbs, reflector bulbs used in recessed cans and floodlights, candle shaped bulbs used in chandeliers and sconces, and round globe bulbs typically used in bathroom lighting fixtures would be exempt from the federal standards that require all general service lamps (GSLs, the regulatory term for everyday light bulbs) to meet a minimum efficiency limit of 45 lumens per watt (LPW) by January 1, 2020.

The 45 LPW (where lumens are the amount of light produced and watts the amount of power used) standard essentially prohibits the future sale of incandescents and halogens because they cannot meet this minimum efficiency level. Instead, consumers will choose between efficient, long lasting CFLs and LED bulbs as of January 1, 2020. Due to their superior performance, consumers are likely to purchase LEDs.

But if the bulbs going into almost half of America’s light sockets are now excluded from the 2020 efficiency standards because they are not part of the general service light bulb definition, a huge amount of money and energy will be wasted. It adds up to annual lost savings of $12 billion in 2025 alone.

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NRDC News, 6 Feb 2019: DOE lighting rollback proposal will cost consumers billions