DOE Lightbulb Efficiency Rollback Will Saddle Americans With High Costs
WASHINGTON – The Alliance to Save Energy released the following statement from President Jason Hartke in response to the Department of Energy announcing a final rule rolling back energy efficiency standards that would cover billions of lightbulbs:
“The Energy Department flat out got it wrong today. Instead of moving us forward, this rule will keep more energy-wasting bulbs on store shelves and saddle the average American household with about $100 in unnecessary energy costs every year. If you wanted folks to pay a lot more than they should on electric bills, this rollback would be a pretty good way of doing it.”
“Wasting energy with inefficient lightbulbs isn’t just costly for homes and businesses, it’s terrible for our climate. This rule means we’re going to need the electricity produced by 25 coal power plants just to power wasteful bulbs. At a time when we need to take aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this is an unforced error.”
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) rule rewrites regulations stemming from bipartisan comprehensive energy legislation passed in 2007 and signed into law by President George W. Bush. That legislation, which calls for gradually phasing in new lighting efficiency standards, has led to dramatically increased adoption of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and encouraged innovation in new lighting products. DOE’s new rule today effectively undoes a 2017 decision by DOE – consistent with the legislation – to expand the types of lightbulbs covered under stronger standards.
The law’s increased efficiency standards began in 2012, covering only the most common, pear-shaped A-series bulbs. As directed under the law, DOE subsequently conducted a second-phase analysis to determine what other categories of lightbulbs qualify as “general service” lighting and should be covered by higher standards. Based on sales data, technical features and other criteria the agency determined that seven additional commonly used categories of lightbulbs should be covered starting in 2020, including those used in indoor recessed lighting and candelabra fixtures. The department maintained exemptions for 15 other lightbulb categories that aren’t as commonly used. DOE also said that a higher efficiency standard that was automatically triggered under the law – requiring a minimum of 45 lumens per watt consumed – should take effect for all covered lightbulbs at the same time.
According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), about 2.9 billion of the total lightbulbs sold in 2015 fall under the new categories to be covered by the higher efficiency standards that were set to take effect in 2020. For comparison, about 3.5 billion A-series lightbulbs were sold in the same year.
According to one estimate, the department’s action will cost the average American household roughly $100 per year while necessitating the energy generated by 25 coal-fired power plants, equivalent to the combined electrical usage of all households in New Jersey and Pennsylvania combined.
About the Alliance to Save Energy
Founded in 1977, the Alliance to Save Energy is a nonprofit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders working to expand the economy while using less energy. Our mission is to promote energy productivity worldwide – including through energy efficiency – to achieve a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security, affordability and reliability.