I was just reading the January 24, 2014 issue of The Kiplinger Letter and noticed a glaring error in the reporting about lightbulb efficiency standards in the “Green Business” section of the letter. The letter states:
But energy-saving lightbulbs are in for a setback. The recent budget deal passed by Congress pulls the plug on an earlier law requiring that incandescent bulbs be phased out in favor of efficient but pricey technology, such as light-emitting diodes.
Look for old-fashioned bulbs to start showing up on store shelves again, once overseas manufacturers resume shipments to the U.S. Still, most large retailers will continue to push energy efficient alternatives, which yield higher profit margins.
As noted in this blog and other NEMA articles, the reality of the situation is much different.
First, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, PL 110-140) does not require incandescent bulbs to be “phased out,” a term which implies that consumers would no longer have incandescent lighting options. Instead, the law sets minimum efficiency standards for general purpose incandescent bulbs representing roughly 30% performance improvement. The transition for these technologies began with 100w bulbs in 2012, and 75w bulbs in 2013 which have remained widely-available to consumers over the last two years. The same will hold true for 60w and 40w bulbs which admittedly represent the majority of lightbulb purchases in the U.S.
Second, the federal budget deal does not repeal the sections of EISA requiring the implementation of the new efficiency standard; in essence “pulling the plug” as Kiplinger describes it. Instead, the 2014 budget recently signed by the president does not provide for federal funding to enforce that law. It remains the law of the land that older technology incandescent bulbs cannot be manufactured nor imported. As a result, the lighting manufacturers in NEMA have retooled their operations and manufacturing technologies to accommodate the new standard of performance. Today, the newer, more efficient bulbs are on the shelf next to the older technology bulbs which can no longer be sold once the existing stock is exhausted. Also, despite the fact that there is no federal funding for enforcement, state attorneys general still have enforcement options for the lighting technologies.
The Kiplinger Letter is a reputable and trusted publication. As the @KipLetter Twitter account states, "The Kiplinger Letter has provided reliable economic, personal finance and political forecasts to subscribers since 1923." NEMA remains eager to help them protect this reputation and ensure the accuracy of their content.