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

Monday, November 28, 2011


And so Bulb Ban Day January 1 2012 is approaching,
when the federal USA lighting regulations take effect.
It is indeed a "ban" on all known General Service Incandescents, including the touted Halogen replacements, by 2020 at the latest.

Unfortunately, the Burgess funding amendment to the Energy/Water Bill, reported on earlier in this blog as an attempt to hold up funding for regulation oversight and thereby also to hold up the ban itself, does not seem to be working out:
The "bait" was for the Democraticaly controlled Senate to swallow the whole funding package, an overall funding package for renewable energy etc that they reportedly were keen on getting through. However, they now seem happy enough to engineer their own bill and lobby it back to the House...

Any direct federal repeal process would of course face President Obama's veto, as he staunchly defends the regulations. That also explains the rather circuitous legal ways used to get round them.

As is often pointed out, the regulations were brought in under President Bush.
However, most if not all of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates are not as supportive of them, with Governor Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul particularly active in repeal ban involvement.

Never to late to see the light...

Saturday's Washington Times Editorial reviews the current situation.

Washington Times Editorial    
November 26 2011    

Time to stock up on light bulbs    

Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison’s brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age.
They’re coming for our light bulbs.

Know-it-all bureaucrats insist that foisting millions of mercury-laden fluorescent tubes on the public is going to be good for the planet.
The public obviously does not agree.
Voting with their wallets, people have overwhelming favored warm, nontoxic lighting options over their pale curlicue imitators.
Beginning Jan. 1, Obama administration extremists will impose massive financial penalties on any company daring to produce a lighting product that fully satisfies ordinary Americans.

The Republican House hasn’t done enough to stop this.
Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, added language to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prohibit the ban’s implementation. A Senate committee deleted this sensible amendment in September, and it’s been quite a while since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed an up-or-down vote on a funding bill.

“This was bad policy in 2007 and worse policy in 2011, especially considering Congress‘ awareness of the American people’s opposition,” Mr. Burgess told The Washington Times. “Harry Reid has literally removed Americans’ choice over what to put in their own homes. This issue is too important to our core values as Americans not to pursue.”

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership hasn’t made this a priority.
Many in the GOP remain cowed by the fraudulent claim that these are just harmless “energy standards” and opposing them would be a crime against the environment.
The reality is that this ban is yet another example of the sort of job-destroying regulations that enrich the administration’s friends at the expense of consumers. Specifically, the rules turn a 50-cent light bulb into a purchase of $3 or more.

Rampaging bureaucrats aren’t just satisfied with foisting inferior light bulbs on the public.
The Energy Department uses the force of the federal government to redesign an entire suite of consumer products to meet their personal preferences.
In nearly every case, their meddling makes things worse.
Current regulations micromanage the function of ceiling fans, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, faucets, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, lamps, pool heaters, power supplies, refrigerators, room air conditioners, shower heads, stoves, toilets and water heaters.

Enough is enough.

All of this is entirely unnecessary.
The public is more than capable of encouraging the development of efficient products.
House Republicans need to force a repeal of the light-bulb ban into the final budget deal so people will know each time they throw a light switch that their representatives see their concerns.


It should be said that Americans don't have to use the CFLs or LEDs for some time, but all incandescents will as said eventually be banned, and the temporarily allowed Halogen types are much more expensive for marginal savings, apart from having some light quality and other differences. Scroll below for more on the regulations...

Furthermore, some may avail of the fact that Canada has put off a ban for 2 years, and that Texas and perhaps other states may come to manufacture the incandescents.
Mexico, however, also has a ban in the pipeline, possibly next year - though they may consider the large subsidised CFL switchover program currently in operation, to be sufficient for now (considerable problems with the CFLs have been reported, due to Mexican electricity mains instability affecting bulb performance and life).

As noted before, the overall energy savings of a ban are low. with much more relevant alternative ways to save energy and emissions in electricity generation, grid distribution, and consumption.
Amazing as it may seem:
Light bulbs don't burn coal or release CO2 gas!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canada Delay to 2014 - It's Official

The stated reason by the Canadian government for the delay

"Delaying the date for compliance with Canada’s efficiency standards for general service lighting for 100/75/60/40W light bulbs (general service lamps) is required in order to strengthen communication activities, to allow for technological innovations and to consider the concerns expressed about the availability of compliant technologies and perceived health and mercury issues, including safe disposal for compact fluorescent lamps"

...and somewhat ironically the "safe disposal for compact fluorescent lamps"
is now of increasing concern in post-ban EU, as covered in this post about the "acute crisis" statement of the Swedish environment minister.

The British Columbia Government seems to be halting any further implementation of the already existing ban in that state.
See the post
( http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.com/2011/12/local-bc-ban-in-canada-on-hold.html )


The Canadian Government have updated their websites regarding the delay to implementation of light bulb energy efficiency regulations:

Delay proposal, details (spring 2011):

While welcome news,
light bulb regulations are particularly inappropriate for Canada, for the several reasons listed here, apart from all the general reasons covered on that site, and in this blog.

The further interesting point is how this may or may not affect both local (British Columbia) and American or other jurisdictional legislation, also because of cross-border trade.

Already the Conservatives in British Columbia are promising a delay or cancellation, if they gain power.
More here: CBC article Nov 17, also see Conservative leader John Cummins's policy document release.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting round the ban?

LightBulbChoice.com is coming to life again, a good comprehensive American campaign website with a forum, blog, petition links etc.

Recently they announced the possibility of allowing the incandescents to stay legal by means of adding a device...
"LightBulbChoice.com has recently joined forces with a corporation who has developed a device that makes incandescent bulbs meet the HR 6 energy efficiency guidelines. This product will be ready for market after the first of the year… just in time for the proposed beginning of the implementation of The Ban. With the introduction of this product we now can have our bulbs and save energy too!"

From further information,
"the technology is a diode that attaches the metal bottom on the bulb that turns AC into DC current which immediately reduces the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs by 40%... putting them within the new efficiency guidelines.
The corporation also has the patent on the design to put the diode directly inside the bulbs themselves. First they will come out with the "stick on" version, then they will come out with the actual light bulb."

Since light output seems lowered at an additional cost, the question is if consumers will go for this (even if legal).

German firms tried what seems to be similar current alteration devices some years ago without popular appeal, while the several other ways to improve incandescent energy efficiency, such as filament alterations and bulb coatings, (more: http://ceolas.net/#li8x) have all similarly lacked appeal, just like the touted halogen replacements.

As covered on the website, the appeal of regular incandescents goes beyond their price, in their simplicity and versatility, but if they are banned, then of course any of these developments might at least offer an alternative.
Unfortunately, EU and USA light bulb energy usage regulations effectively ban halogen and other incandescent replacements before 2016 (EU) and 2020 (USA).

In any case, major manufacturers have shown scant interest in improving incandescents, ever since the Phoebus Cartel limited their lifespans, and are even less likely to do so in the face of alternative profitable CFL and LED sales (cue China comment, previous blog post here).

That said,
if the corporation involved in the above device can temporarily exploit a legal gap in the market to provide a greater incandescent choice, so much the better...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

China Joins the Fray...

China is now more actively seeking to phase out incandescent light bulbs...
Kevan at Savethebulb.org has the most informative article on this, culled from several sources.

Excerpts, with some comments:

Imports and sales of 100 watt and higher incandescent bulbs will be banned from October next year, while those of 60 watts and above will be banned from October 2014
[with more set to follow]

The move has been forced from outside China.
The Global Environment Facility fund, which has invested millions of dollars in China to encourage the phase-out, says that moving to efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways for countries to cut carbon emissions.

Christophe Bahuet, the deputy country director of the United Nations Development Programme, said: “I think what’s important for us is that China is joining an international trend. It also sends a signal that will inspire others.”

Lighting professionals in China are less enthusiastic for the ban. Liu Shengping, the secretary general of the China Association of Lighting Industry, said that it was “unrealistic” to require energy efficient lights were used everywhere. “As long as the demand exists, Chinese manufacturers can hardly pull the plug on the production line.”Wang Jinsui, the president of the China Illuminating Engineering Society, told the China Daily newspaper that the government should consider subsidies because many families would not be able to afford the more expensive energy-efficient bulbs.

Given the massive and typically very poor population in China the personal burden on families of having to pay for expensive compact fluorescent lamps will be very great
[or the subsidies will tax the tax payers, as it were...]

If China increases lamp production then there will be further increases in Cinnabar mining and Mercury production with consequent increases in pollution.

It is also unlikely that China will be any more effective that Europe in managing the collection and recycling of dead CFLs from consumers thereby increasing mercury in land fill.

Yet again the ban appears as a political tool rather than an effective measure towards sustainability!


The ban also clearly has a profit motive for Chinese CFL/LED manufacturers (including outsourced GE, Philips etc production).

Philips and Osram have been involved in other United Nations "switchover" programs.
More on how major light bulb manufacturers have pushed for and welcomed light bulb regulations and CFL programs, with references and documentation copies http://ceolas.net/#li12ax

Apart from affecting people’s freedom of product choice, the actual switchover savings are not that great anyway =
a fraction of 1% of overall energy use is saved from banning the bulbs, similarly in grid usage, as shown by US Dept of Energy, EU statistics and other official information (http://ceolas.net/#li171x) with alternative and much more meaningful ways to save energy in electricity generation, distribution or consumption.

Light bulbs don't burn coal or release CO2.
Power plants might.
If there's a problem - deal with the problem, rather than a token ban on simple safe light bulbs, light bulbs that people obviously like to use (or there would not be the pre-supposed savings in banning them).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

American 2012 ban

The federal American ban on incandescent light bulbs is approaching...

As previously posted,
the HR 2354 Energy and Water bill as already passed in the Republican controlled House of Representatives,
contains the Burgess amendment that cuts the funds needed to implement and monitor American federal light bulb regulation starting January 2012, which would otherwise have seen regular 100 Watt bulbs removed from sale at such date.

This bill is now in the Democrat-controlled Senate:
Since it funds a range of energy measures generally desired also by the Senate Democrats it might be passed, albeit that it would take some time, given the range of additional amendments that have just been added, on November 15.

Other possible ways for American consumers to still be able buy the bulbs in future,
are the individual state repeal bills (already legislated in Texas, still progressing in Pennsylvania, Michigan and some other states: http://ceolas.net/#li01inx),
and the likely delay of the Canada 2012 ban to 2014 (CBC article),
although Mexico also seems set to implement regulations in 2012.