• Jenny Heinzen York

First phase of light bulb ban goes into effect Jan. 1

But last-minute Congressional spending bill may delay enforcement

As phase one of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 goes into effect Jan. 1, Home Accents Today revisits the controversial issue and what purveyors of lamps and lighting need to know to help answer the complicated questions that come with it.
Joseph A. Ray-Barreau, architect and lighting designer, professor at the University of Kentucky and education consultant for the American Lighting Association, hosted a webinar last year outlining many of the specifics.
What is being banned, at the start of 2012, are general-use, 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs. Similar restrictions go into place for 75-watt bulbs (2013) and 60- and 40-watt bulbs (2014).
"There are dozens of incandescent bulbs that are not even being addressed in this legislation," Ray-Barreau said. Twenty-two categories are exempted, including candelabra-base and three-way incandescents.
EISA 2007 was written to help improve American energy-independence and boost product efficiency. EISA sets new efficiency standards for many common light bulbs, resulting in a 25% to 30% improvement in energy efficiency.
Manufacturers are introducing much more advanced technology, including halogen light bulbs, compact fluorescents and LEDs, many of which already meet the initial standards.
After Jan. 1, 2012, any bulb that uses 100 watts to produce a certain amount of light, can only use 72 watts to produce approximately the same amount of light.
However, in a late-2011 twist, the spending bill that passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives effectively removed all the dollars that would have been used for the enforcement of the new regulations.
Where this issue ends up remains to be seen - the spending bill only cuts the funding for one year.
According to a statement from the ALA, dated Dec. 20:
"Many of you have asked if this makes EISA 2007 as it relates to light bulbs obsolete. It does not. The law is still the law. Quite simply, the rider states that the Dept. of Energy may not use any of its funding to enforce the incandescent light bulb standards.
All major light bulb manufacturers have stated that they will proceed as if nothing has changed. However, this rider is problematic for numerous reasons:
* American manufacturers have already invested millions of dollars in transitioning to energy-efficient lighting as a result of the EISA 2007 provision. Any delay in enforcement will undermine those investments and create regulatory uncertainty.
* The inability of the Department of Energy to enforce the standards will allow "bad actors" to sell their non-compliant products in the U.S. without fear of enforcement, creating a competitive disadvantage for compliant manufacturers.
* Even if DOE does not have the funds to enforce the standards, EISA 2007 gave state attorneys general the ability to enforce. A lack of DOE enforcement will create consumer confusion due to a patchwork of state standards enforcement and place manufacturers in an intolerable position due to uneven and potentially unpredictable enforcement.
For the reasons noted above, the ALA ... does not support the rider.

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