Pro-consumer Solutions Needed in Light Bulb Rule

Pro-consumer Solutions Needed in Light Bulb Rule

This piece was originally published in the July 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Kyle Pitsor, Vice President of Government Relations, NEMA


In written comments NEMA filed with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. lighting manufacturers reaffirmed their position that consumers should have multiple options when selecting the type of light bulbs to purchase.

NEMA’s comments took issue with requirements in a DOE-proposed energy-efficiency rule aimed at forcing the exclusive adoption of LED bulbs, thereby denying consumer choice and disrupting the ongoing and rapid market transition to energy-efficient lighting.

For the more than three billion lamp sockets in American homes, consumer demand for new, innovative, ever-more-efficient lighting technologies, including LED bulbs, demonstrates a market working the way it should. The NEMA Lamp Index reveals that in the first three months of 2016, LED shipments exceeded compact fluorescent (CFL) ones for the first time and by a comfortable margin. Now representing 26 percent of general-service light bulb shipments, LED sales have been accelerating consistently quarter over quarter, while shares of CFL and incandescent bulbs have declined.

The proposed rule would implement an efficiency standard for general-service light bulbs that would effectively eliminate energy-efficient halogen bulbs, CFL bulbs, and many specialty incandescent bulbs, starting January 1, 2020. Halogen bulbs have been widely available since 2012, and the industry invested millions of dollars to produce these incrementally more efficient bulbs in the U.S., employing hundreds of people. The DOE also seeks to regulate a variety of decorative light bulbs, such as those used for chandeliers, requiring that they be LED-only by 2020—regardless of whether acceptable replacements are technically feasible.

In its comments, NEMA encouraged the DOE to adopt new energy-conservation standards for general-service LED lamps and some specialty lamps where it was economically justified and technologically feasible.

The DOE will publish the final ruling before January 1, 2017. If the NEMA recommendations are not adopted, consumer choices will be dramatically more limited, while lighting producers will be left with stranded U.S. manufacturing investments and at-risk jobs. In place of disrupting the industry and market by eliminating whole classes of light bulbs, the NEMA comments offer an alternative path.

Read this month’s issue of electroindustry.

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