If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ending the Confrontation over Light Bulbs

Since the US Senate Energy Committee are meeting from 9.30 AM onwards
today, apparently also with Dept of Energy officials about light bulb regulations and their scheduled start January 1,
it seemed apt to remind about lighting policy alternatives,
alternatives to the enforcement or not of regulations...

To recap,
Republicans are being criticized for holding up omnibus spending legislation, with last-minute amendment attempts reported on here a few days ago, and as covered in different media, for example The Hill 2 days ago:
A Republican-backed rider to repeal a slew of light bulb efficiency standards is one of a handful of issues preventing lawmakers from coming to a deal on omnibus spending legislation, according to Senate Democrats.

Most can agree it's good to save energy and emissions (CO2 or not)

How can this best be done,
taking into account the wishes of all sides?

To summarize the issue:

All lighting has advantages, including simple incandescents, and
the halogen incandescent replacements will eventually be banned too
on EISA 45 lumen per Watt end-regulation norms.

The object is to reduce electricity usage (especially coal)
and to reduce CO2 emissions.
Light bulbs don't burn coal, or release any CO2.
Power plants might - and might not
If there's a problem, deal with the problem.

As US Dept of Energy and official EU statistics show,
the overall lighting switchover savings are comparatively small, around 1% of grid use, and even then with reservations as listed and referenced on http://ceolas.net/#li171x.
It also goes into why the supposed consumer savings don't hold up, and the better ways to save energy in dealing with electricity generation, grid distribution and alternative consumption reduction (from actual usage waste, rather than from consumer product choice!).

But OK:
This is all about "significantly" reducing electricity use,
at least as far as Democrats are concerned.
But of course then coal, coal electricity, or any electricity, could simply be taxed, on liberal ideology
(and Govmt tax income could help pay for Budget deficit as well as insulating poorer homes)
- no need for petty usage rules.

if bulbs really had to be targeted, they could be taxed,
and help subsidise cheaper energy saving alternatives, so people are "not just hit by taxes":
Govmt income, equilibrated markets, lowered incandescent sales, and consumer choice all achieved
- same could be done with all other energy efficiency regulations
(buildings, cars, washing machines..) that reduce consumer choice.

Better still is simply to encourage competition,
all along the electricity supply chain:
Electricity companies and light bulb manufacturers then strive to keep down their own energy costs, while manufacturers are also pushed to make energy saving products that people actually want to buy
(and have always wanted, since savings are a marketable advantage:
"Expensive to buy but cheap in the long run"? - look at Energizer bunny rabbit commercials!)
New ideas, energy efficient or otherwise, can always be helped to the market.

lighting manufacturers instead got a much easier way to profits,
in successfully lobbying for a ban on cheap unprofitable incandescents, to sell their more profitable expensive wares, as covered on
http://ceolas.net/#li12ax and onwards, with documentation and communication copies that also cover the CFL programs in different states.

Energy Efficiciency Regulations are the worst option for both Democrats and Republicans.

The US Budget Deficit needs Government income:
Democrats might note that 1 1/2 - 2 billion pre-ban sales
of cheap easily taxable light bulbs would give billions of dollars in coming years on modest taxation, while a large taxation simulates bans while still keeping choice.
And that is just light bulbs.
Then see the massive income from converting energy efficiency regulations on buildings, cars, and all other consumer products to taxation,
always with the possibility of paid-for subsidies to lower the prices of alternatives, given the general opposition of taxes.

However, Democrats might also see that overall energy savings are better achieved via competition measures.

Republicans can more easily see the competition arguments,
less so taxation,
but again, taxation is easier to implement and alter than regulations,
they keep consumer choice, and they are easier to remove when no longer considered necessary, without disrupting manufacture or production.
So it is better than regulations also for them.

In other words:
For both sides, on their declared ideologies,
competition or taxation measures serve them better than regulations do.



Anonymous said...

politicians like confrontation,
it gives meaning to their existence

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