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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cartoons reacting to the ban


Not had any "On the Light Side" (section link) posts for a while... banning bulbs sure has its absurd side.
The second one is from a while back here, many others been put online since then - some of the quirkier ones...




cartoonstock.com



joe heller




source victoria times?



mackay 250news via paul fbook




How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Friday, June 6, 2014

"EU Twisting Facts to fit Political Agenda"


It is only human to decide what is right or wrong - and look for facts to prove you are right.
Certainly, a case could be made that it is done here, though I would argue that any such emphasis is to balance official information in support of bans.
For example, I think fluorescent bulbs are also useful and should not be banned.
Nevertheless, the original ban on incandescents was largely defended on supposed energy saving of fluorescent bulbs, which have many disadvantages as replacements, hence the criticism, and the same can be said of LED bulbs, hence the critical reviews on this site in being pushed as replacements.

The point therefore is that political institutions should have an open perspective from the start.
Lighting choice issues apart, ruling authorities in the USA, EU and elsewhere see usage energy saving as some Holy Grail, getting even that wrong for several reasons.
However, in the context here, it is also that they do not even consider factors not fitting in with their agenda, and when such factors (heat issue, full life cycle, power plant off-peak operation, environmental and health effects of replacement bulbs) are hard to measure, it provides an extra imperative to have follow up studies to see if supposed savings and usage safety were actually there.

The issue becomes particularly poignant when the institution has a monopoly of launching legislative proposals for 500 million citizens - like the European Commission in the EU - and decisions, once taken, are hard to change.

Insider or whistleblower criticism of political process gives extra credibility, as here.

Recent article May 27 2014 by Frederic Simon on EurActiv site, extracts, my emphases:


EU Twisting Facts to fit Political Agenda

A big challenge for the next European Commission will be to disconnect its evidence gathering processes from the “political imperative” that’s driving policy proposals, according to Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific advisor.





Speaking before the EU elections last week, Glover reflected upon her role, which was introduced by the outgoing President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

Glover was appointed in December 2011 to provide the President of the EU Executive with first-class independent scientific advice. A trained biologist who holds a chair in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Aberdeen, she previously served a as chief scientific advisor for Scotland (2006-2011).

More than two years into her job, she seems to have learned a great deal about the internal working of the EU’s flagship institution.

And her assessment of what goes on inside the Commission’s walls is not rosy.

“When I spoke to president Barroso about taking up this role, I said to him that for me it would only be attractive if I was regarded as an independent chief scientific advisor,” Glover told a briefing organised on 21 May by Eurochambres, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“What I said to him was that, for me to have any value or credibility, I need to focus on evidence and not on political considerations,” she recalled...

A big challenge for the next European Commission will be to disconnect its evidence gathering processes from the “political imperative” that’s driving policy proposals, according to Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific advisor.

Illustrating her point, she used a fictitious example:
“Let’s imagine a Commissioner over the weekend thinks, ‘Let’s ban the use of credit cards in the EU because credit cards lead to personal debt’.
So that commissioner will come in on Monday morning and say to his or her Director General, ‘Find me the evidence that demonstrates that this is the case.’” The Commissioner’s staff might resist the idea but in the end, she says, “they will do exactly what they’re asked” and “find the evidence” to show that credit card use leads to personal debt, even though this may not be the case in reality.
“So you can see where this is going,” Glover said: “You’re building up an evidence base which is not really the best.”

To back its policy proposals, the Commission often outsources the evidence-gathering part of the job to external consulting firms, which provide ‘impact assessment studies’ or ‘research’ that are often branded as ‘independent’.
However, Glover says such consultancies have little incentive to produce evidence that contradicts the Commission’s political agenda.
“If they want repeat business, [they] are not going to go out and find the evidence to show that this is a crazy idea,”
she says.

To be fair, the Commission is not alone in trying to distort facts, Glover said. The same goes for the other two EU institutions – the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, which represents the 28 EU member states.

“What happens at the moment – whether it’s in Commission, Parliament or Council – is that time and time again, if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence. So everybody blames the evidence and nobody is honest about the fact that in many cases, understanding the evidence is the best possible platform to make the logical extension into policy. But they don’t like it so they say ‘We need more evidence’...

Crucially, Glover says transparency in the evidence-gathering process would be key, so that every stakeholder - whether a citizen, a business, a politician, a scientist – can look at the reasoning that’s behind policy proposals. "And that is all doable, it is not a fantasy. It would be quite easy to achieve," she says.


Comment

This is not surprising, given the VITO and other test labs behind the light bulb ban, their assumptions without real life comparisons, and the current lack of 5-year review studies to see if supposed savings actually occurred, as covered before.

Hardly a thoughtful European policy for the good of European citizens, who are never considered "stakeholders" in any decision affecting them.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Updates
"How Regulations are Wrongly Justified"


A reminder that separately from postings here, the page "How Regulations are Wrongly Justified" as linked below gets continuous major and minor updates, with the major updates noted at the top. In the last couple of days there have been several revisions and additions as seen.


How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A JOLT with Sensible Energy Policy...


Interesting article regarding the overall point of banning light bulbs rather than dealing with power plants themselves for energy or emission policy
(light bulbs which don't themselves burn any fossil fuel or release any supposed global warming emissions, though the bulbs do provide a bit of heat!)

"How many Virginians Does it Take to Screw-up a Light Bulb Phase-Out?"
April 11, 2014 by Kit Mathers, Associate Copy Editor, JOLT (The Richmond Journal of Law and Technology)




How many Virginians Does it Take to Screw-up a Light Bulb Phase-Out?

In January, Congress, through overwhelming bipartisan cooperation, approved, and President Obama signed into law, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill; a provision of which precludes the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) from spending allocated funds to enforce twilight measures of a “light bulb phase-out” mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (“EISA”).[1]

The phase-out, which effectively began in January 2012, requires that light bulbs produce a certain level of brightness at specified energy levels.[2]

Of particular significance to the average consumer, traditional incandescent light bulbs are incapable of fulfilling the new energy efficiency standards and as of January 1, 2014 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs (which represent half of the consumer light bulb market) are no longer allowed to be manufactured or imported into the U.S.[3]

Overall, the standards set forth by the EISA are predicted to result in annual electric bill savings of nearly $13-billion, power savings equivalent to the output of 30 large power plants, and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 100 million tons per year.[4]

The spending bill’s ban is not particularly formidable from the perspective of many environmentalists and “pro phase-out” light bulb manufacturers who have characterized it as a nuisance that can’t possibly derail the “market shift” toward more energy-efficient light bulbs.[5]

But should we be more supportive of the spending bill’s ban despite the EISA’s potential environmental benefits?
In support of the ban, House Republicans have stated that EISA phase-out requirements are characteristic of government overreach, and enforcement measures should not be tolerated.[6]

Is there any merit to the House Republicans’ argument?
Is federal product regulation really the proper avenue for catalyzing change in consumer power consumption?
The tension at the heart of the light bulb phase-out is representative of a fundamental issue that must be addressed in any discussion of “where” energy regulations should be focused. I tend to agree with House Republicans who are wary of the government’s reach into consumer purchasing power, but perhaps end-user regulation (“downstream”) is the most parsimonious way of realizing change in energy use and accompanying (upstream) emissions.
Upstream regulation is inescapably difficult. State and federal regulation of power plants and their emissions is tedious work, often drawn out interminably by litigation. But then again, why not increasingly regulate power plants themselves if we are operating under the guise that the end goal is to limit carbon emissions and power plant out-put? It’s not as though the light bulbs are the source of poor energy management decisions or egregious carbon emissions. Understanding why the EISA, in large part, came to be makes the decision to regulate downstream consumer choice even less palatable.

While the EISA does not outrightly proscribe the manufacture or importation of all incandescent light bulbs, it has the net effect of increasing market prevalence and selection of more expensive, compact fluorescent light bulbs (“CFLs”) and light emitting diodes (“LEDs”) which is extremely beneficial to major light bulb manufacturers.
As Timothy Carey of the Washington Examiner details, the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act “wasn’t a case of an industry getting on board with an inevitable regulation in order to tweak it. The lighting industry was the main reason the legislation was moving.”[7] The light bulb industry is, by its nature, a competitive market with no significant impediments to entry. Characteristic of such competitive markets, under the neoclassical economic model, is product pricing at marginal cost – the cost of producing one additional unit of output- which results in low profit margins.[8] GE, Philips and Sylvania, which dominate the U.S. incandescent light bulb market, want to “convert their dominance into price hikes,” but because market entry is not significantly encumbered by manufacturing or regulatory costs, consumers will gladly purchase new alternative brands that offer bulbs at, or close to, marginal cost.[9] Market giants, with significant capital available for research and development programs, sought to extinguish the threat of competition (which keeps profit margins low) by expending significant money to improve the incandescent light bulb, primarily through advancing halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies.[10] These “energy efficient bulbs” sell at a much higher price point compared to incandescent light bulbs, and because of this, consumer choice has remained somewhat stagnant and heavily biased toward incandescents. Light bulb manufacturers, aware that consumers won’t willingly skirt cost benefit considerations in light bulb selection, have thus collaborated with groups like the NRDC in lobbying for the phase out of incandescents; their agenda being the “push” of profitable products rather than environmental conservancy.[11] Undoubtedly, there are great advantages to newer bulb technologies, as well as associated costs.[12] However, it’s extremely hard to justify the handcuffing of consumer freedom of choice when it is being instituted by government elites and unelected bureaucrats.[13]

All in all, it is extremely important to ask, where (or at what phase) should regulatory efforts be focused (and why)? The upstream power plants, downstream consumers, or both?
Perhaps the fact that light bulb manufacturers are sustaining windfall profits from federal regulation is an inevitable consequence; in any regulatory effort there will always be a party that benefits, perhaps grossly, from regulation. It will be interesting to see what happens to the spending bill’s ban in the coming months, and whether or not downstream regulation will accomplish its goals.

[1] Bill Chappell, Obama Signs Trillion-Dollar Spending Bill, NPR, (January 17, 2014), http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/01/17/263511534/obama-signs-trillion-dollar-federal-spending-bill.

[2] Jeremy Kaplan, Last light: Final Phaseout of Incandescent Bulbs Coming Jan. 1, FOX NEWS, (December 13, 2013), http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/12/13/final-phase-out-incandescent-light-bulbs-jan-1/.

[3] Patrick J. Kiger, U.S. Phase-out of Incandescent Light Bulbs Continues in 2014 with 40-, 60-Watt Varieties, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, (December 31, 2013), http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/31/u-s-phase-out-of-incandescent-light-bulbs-continues-in-2014-with-40-60-watt-varieties/.

[4] NRDC Fact Sheet, Shedding New Light on the U.S. Energy Efficiency Standards for Everyday Light Bulbs, NRDC, (January 2013), http://www.nrdc.org/energy/energyefficientlightbulbs/files/shedding-new-light-FS.pdf.

[5] Wendy Koch, Congress to Bar Enforcement of Light-bulb Phaseout, USA TODAY, (January 14, 2014), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/14/coal-projects-light-bulb-rules/4476103/.

[6] Timothy P. Carney, Industry, not Environmentalists, Killed Traditional Light Bulbs, WASHINGTON EXAMINER, (January 1, 2014), http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2541430.
[Tim Carney has extensively and critically covered the issue, from an industrial political angle, as covered on this blog here before]

[7] Id.

[8] See id.

[9] See id.

[10] See id.

[11] For a comical portrayal of the “story behind the ban” (in both the U.S. and Canada) see this crude cartoon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta2ozf_uJJ8 (a feature from infra note 15).
["Mr Stinkypants" as also featured before here on freedomlightbulb]

[12] It’s contended that new light bulb technologies are not all that “efficient” when used by the average consumer. I recommend looking at Paul Wheaton’s website for a critique of the science behind the phase-out: http://www.richsoil.com/CFL-fluorescent-light-bulbs.jsp.
[Good article, also linked here previously]

[13] See id.


Comment
"It's not as though the light bulbs are the source of poor energy management decisions or egregious carbon emissions."
Exactly
Light bulbs don't burn coal or release CO2 gas.
Power plants might - and might not.
If there's a problem - Deal with the problem.

Little attention is paid to practicality rather than side-by-side bulb energy saving theory.
This includes not just compensatory consumer behavior, like leaving lights on because cheaper (and fluorescent on-off switching decreases life span) or using more LEDs due being directional, or higher than supposed wattages for perceived output weakness etc.

Specifically, it includes the main evening/night off-peak time of use of simple incandescent bulbs when surplus electricity available, and coal plants in particular - the main "culprit" - effectively burn the same coal regardless of bulb used, due their minimum night cycle level covering any such demand and not being lowered due operational cost
(slow downturn and stoking up to daytime level and associated wear and
tear).

As referenced with grid data, coal plant and energy commission references etc, below.
Including that those manufacturers already cooperated in the Phoebus cartel to limit standard incandescent lifespan to 1000 hrs...
There is nothing wrong in manufacturers seeking and lobbying for profitable decisions.
There is every wrong in politicians handing them profits at the stroke of a pen.

As for the "necessity" to regulate given that consumers prefer cheap products that hardly holds up either. Plenty of other products are marketed and sold as being "Expensive to buy but Cheap in the long run".
And, even if bulbs "had to" be targeted, competition stimulation (helping new bulbs to market without continuing subsidy) or taxation/subsidy policy, taxing cheap bulbs which could cover price lowering subsidy on alternatives, would still be more relevant to both supposedly save energy, and keep choice.

How many politicians should it take to change a light bulb?
None.


How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Disc Power






It should be clear by now to readers of this blog how incandescent light bulbs are popular, simple, cheap and yes, efficient, in needing few parts to produce bright light, and without supposed energy saving to society (incandescents as the "real green" bulbs).

Unsurprising, then, that people around the world are using workarounds to be able to keep using them. Dumb governments, who make pointless and unpopular laws to suit lobbying profitmakers rather than their citizens, will always find such reactions.

In Europe as in North America, one such avenue has been the use of still legal "rough service" type of bulbs, as well as currently temporarily allowed halogen types.
There are also alternative voltage and current altering ways (in bulbs or externally) that extend incandescent lifetime albeit with some brightness loss.
The various workarounds were most recently covered in the post "USA and Canada Light Bulb Ban: Now and in the Future" from earlier this year.

One innovative way was as seen recently launched in the USA by two bright entrepreneurs, Lisa Elder and Trishah Woolley, using a disc with any ordinary light bulb.
To expand a little more about the California based Power Disc venture, edited extracts from the website, powerdisc.com...




It consists of a nylon reinforced thermoset plastic disc, a solid-state rectifying diode and a foam washer with an adhesive surface. The PowerDiscTM is attached to the base of a light bulb by means of the 3M adhesive coated foam so that the center contact of the bulb is in contact with one end of the diode. When screwed into a light socket, the other end of the diode contacts the center contact of the light socket.

By converting the electricity power used by the bulb from AC to DC, the PowerDisc™ significantly reduces energy consumption up to 42% and also extends the bulb life up to 100 times therefore reducing bulb replacement costs.

In other words, 120 volts of alternating current (AC) are converted to approximately 85 volts direct current (DC).
The light bulb filaments, that actually create the light we see, will burn at a much lower temperature...The degree to which the filament is heated is directly related to the life of the bulb.

Using the formula from the General Electric Incandescent Lamps Booklet (ref. GE #TP-1100R2 5/84) we calculate the life of the bulb with the reduced voltage.... example...



[On the light output reduction issue, making comparisons:]

As it is well known in the industry, all energy efficient light bulbs will have some reduction in lumens (light output), initially up to 30% over the first couple of months. Take note of the packaging for CFL and LED bulbs, they claim they will operate at 70% efficacy - which means they know their bulbs will lose 30% in lumens. Example, the packaging states 1000 lumens but they "guarantee" that the bulb will operate at 700 lumens.

Also the "long life" incandescent and halogen bulbs which operate at 130 volts, when you use it in a 120 volt socket, there is an immediate 25% lumen loss from what is stated on the packaging. Example, the packaging states 1000 lumens but in a 120V socket it is really 750 lumens.

With the PowerDisc there is also an initial lumen loss, the difference is the bulb will maintain that lumen level for the life of the bulb- it won't get dimmer and dimmer over time until it burns out. If it is necessary to maintain similar lumen levels it is recommended to increase the wattage of the light bulb used. The lumen level of the light bulb is dependent upon the manufacturer, clear or frosted and type of light bulb being used. Also keep in mind the lumen level you have upon insertion will be the lumen level for the rest of the life of your bulb until the day it burns out, which means it does not diminish over time, whereas with CFLs and LEDs you get around a 30% lumen loss in the first couple of months, then it slowly decreases until it is very dim. This makes for safety and security issues in certain areas.

If it is important to maintain the visible light level, a higher wattage bulb should be used...but as bulb wattage increases, efficiency in the transformation of electricity to light also increases.



So to begin with the downside, there is a seeming 25-30% brightness loss which means higher electricity costs for a bulb of given brightness, compared with an ordinary simple incandescent bulb.
But... the point is of course is that as such bulbs gradually get banned (and in the USA as in Europe there is talk of controlling the availability of rough service incandescents for ordinary consumers), it allows the extended use of any such bulb without hoarding.
Also, as they say, fluorescents and LEDs dim as they are used, reducing their effective light output too.
Finally the advantage of not having to change bulbs may be useful in some locations.

Overall, good to see this innovative spirit from others who are against the ban - and doing something about it!


How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Double Dumb IKEA 2016 LED Bulb Policy




short version (11 secs)



full version (1 minute 1 second)




IKEA, as some may know, made a big noise about not selling incandescent light bulbs a while back, pushing fluorescent bulb replacements - ahead of any government ban.

Fluorescent bulbs have come under increasing criticism, with LED bulbs becoming the new rage:
So IKEA then make a big noise about how they are not going to sell either incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, only selling LED bulbs from 2016 - again ahead of any government ban.
The above video arises from a commercial currently running in Europe, though the policy was announced in 2012 (LEDs magazine article)

IKEA are of course perfectly free to sell what they want:
But normally stores don't promote sales based on excluding alternatives.
IKEA effectively say that people are too stupid to choose themselves - so IKEA will choose for them!


Unfortunately LED bulbs themselves are increasingly being shown to have several problems,
as per official studies.
Hence the acknowledging of problems in an 11 point rundown in recent weeks, just as the IKEA ad is running...
LEDs Magazine article March 2014, point title extracts quoted below.
LEDs magazine, as linked before, is obviously in favor of LED technology, so the media source is interesting of itself.
As is the author: "James Broderick is the lighting program manager at the US Department of Energy." Of course he believes the problems will be solved, he could hardly keep his job otherwise in the ban-promoting Department...

Lesson 1:....testing requirements necessary to counter exaggerated claims of performance by some manufacturers ...led to high testing costs.

Lesson 2: Despite the promise of long life, there’s no standard way to rate the lifetime and reliability of LED lighting products.

Lesson 3: Although specifiers prefer complete families of products, the rapid evolution of LED technology presents a challenge to manufacturers in creating and maintaining complete product lines.

Lesson 4: The range of color quality available with LED lighting products, and the limitations of existing color metrics, may confuse users.

Lesson 5: The color delivered by some LEDs shifts enough over time to negatively impact adoption in some applications.

Lesson 6: Some LEDs flicker noticeably, which may negatively impact adoption in some applications.

Lesson 7: LEDs can cause glare, which may negatively impact adoption in some applications.

Lesson 8: Achieving high-quality dimming performance with LED lamps is difficult....

Lesson 9: Greater interoperability of lighting control components and more sensible specifications of lighting control systems are required to maximize the energy savings from LED lighting

Lesson 10: Lack of LED lighting product serviceability and interchangeability has created market adoption barriers in certain sectors.

Lesson 11: Existing lighting infrastructure limits the full potential of SSL; more effort is needed to open the doors to new lighting systems and form factors.

That follows on from several other LED issues highlighted,
eg French official Health Agency ANSES that keep complaining that EU have not acted appropriately regarding point source glare, blue light and other possible problems...
"Effets sanitaires des systèmes d’éclairage utilisant des diodes électroluminescentes" arising from a large cross-disciplinary study.

Given the IKEA "green" tone, LED environmental issues should particularly be noted.
Thereby another large cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional study, this time by UC Davis (California USA) and others, showing LED problems from another angle, their great complexity using up rare earth mineral resources, and their toxic mineral content.
As per Scientific American article and references, "The Dark Side of LED Lightbulbs""

This is only the beginning, because the life cycle energy use and emissions of LEDs, (beyond the usually only considered assembly stage), includes raw material mining, component manufacture, assembly, recycling (as recommended per studies) and, not least, transport in all stages.
Much CFL/LED manufacture is outsourced to China, so considerable transport in the distributive phase alone - on bunker oil fueled ships. More on these issues via end link below.

So much for "IKEA green policy"



The overall point is of course that all lighting has advantages and disadvantages, also environmentally.

Yes, incandescents use more energy on side-by-side comparisons.
But they also have limited life cycle energy use (also from being patent expired and simple, so more easily made locally by small firms - sustainably!).
The energy use is mainly off peak night time anyway when surplus electricity capacity available and same coal (the main "culprit") usually burned with effectively same emissions regardless of bulb used at such main times, since turning coal plants down and up again to daytime levels is operatively slow and expensive (wear and tear etc) as amply referenced in the 14 point rundown linked at the bottom of this post.

Again,
fluorescents have been castigated on well known mercury and radiation issues, but have their useful and far greater energy saving application as long tubes rather than bulbs, in situations where light left on for relatively large areas for long periods (office areas, also some kitchens)

Again,
LED technology, while having the environmental and other issues mentioned, is mainly useful as sheets, as originally applied, rather than incandescent-clone-bulbs, that IKEA are now happy to solely promote.

On an IKEA petty pointless ban-happy attitude, presumably they should soon turn to selling candles.
But then candles, apparently, have a relatively high CO2 related index and their own environmental issues, taking in any use of animal fats (stearin) and paraffin wax.



IKEA unsurprisingly want good publicity given multiple investigations into cheap labour, child labour, political prisoner labour etc they have apparently used...

The irony of using a green forest in the video:
Given all the wood IKEA uses for furniture and the issues from that, with The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Feb 2014 just as the ad is being shown, withdrawing certification for the IKEA forestry company (Swedwood) on grounds of malpractice.
Also earlier alleged illegal logging from Chinese suppliers, as covered in the first labour link above.
Also more on using old forests in Finland and Russia.... etc as per online search.

In fairness, nearly all big multinationals come in for criticism one way or another, as per Nike and other scandals, given the difficulty there may be of following the supply chain and everybody involved.

But trying to score some sort of compensating environmental "brownie points" by jumping on the bulb ban bandwagon can and should backfire on the basis of what is, and is not, relevant and true.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Canada Light Bulb Heat and CO2 Emissions


More on Canada light bulb heat issue:
As per the recent previous post Government's own research shows savings are negligible when room heating is welcome.
The point of course is not "to heat your room with light bulbs", simply the benefit when light is wanted and the heat is useful, as at most times when it is dark in Canada.

Several more Canadian and other country studies at http://ceolas.net/#li6x.
These also include the CO2 emission issue:
That "clean" bulb electricity lowering the need for "dirty" room heating source can save CO2 emissions rather than increase them, as usually supposed
(A further reason that CO2 or other emissions are not increased is that coal plants, the main emission source, effectively burn the same coal anyway at the evening-night times when incandescent bulbs are mostly used.
This is from operational factors, their minimum night cycle level, as they are slow and expensive to power down and up including wear and tear, compared to simply keep burning coal at reduced levels that still cover what bulbs people may or may not want to use.
No - there isn't any politician or energy savings agency that takes such practical factors into account, just another reason for the pointlessness behind banning bulbs, as per the end link below).


A recent January 16 article on Canadian Energy Issues website by Steve Aplin again points out the emission saving fallacy when a non-CO2 emitting electricity source replaces an emitting source of ordinary room heating.



Extracts:


Incandescent ban illuminates urgent need for public carbon education


If I can get heat from a low- or zero-carbon source, I am more than happy to choose it over stuff like gasoline or wood. And because I know something about the carbon content of each watt of heat from the different things that make heat, and because I live in Ontario, I would choose Ontario grid electricity over every other source that is available to me.

This is why I shake my head when governments buy into the pseudo-green groupthink that produced the ban on incandescent lightbulbs in Canada. Incandescent lightbulbs convert most of the electricity running through them into heat; only a small percentage—as little as five percent, according to this Popular Mechanics article—goes into producing light. My take on that is: who cares.

In Toronto, Ontario’s capital and Canada’s biggest city, artificial heat is used pretty much from September 15 to June 1. (A city bylaw requires landlords to provide artificial heat to rented homes so that their indoor temperature is maintained at at least 21 °C.) That means that from Sept. 15 to June 1—i.e., in 259 days out of the year—the heat produced by an indandescent lightbulb is actually useful in Toronto residences. Who cares if an incandescent lightbulb turns most of the electricity running through it into heat.

Now, what is the environmental upshot of that electric heat?
You can measure this very easily. Table 1 in the left-hand sidebar provides the hourly carbon content of Ontario electricity. [see the original article, which also provides the calculations to arrive at the data below] This is given in the bottom row of the Table, and is called the CO2 intensity per kilowatt-hour (CIPK) of grid electricity. At eight a.m. today (January 16 2014), Ontario’s CIPK of grid electricity was 54.3 grams. The CIPK varies from hour to hour, depending on the generators that feed the grid in each hour. With the current mix of generation sources, Ontario’s CIPK averaged over a year is around 82 grams....



Using the Ontario average annual CIPK of 82 grams, that 0.95 kWh of electrically generated heat comes with 77.9 grams of CO2.....
Using a natural gas-fired heater to provide the 0.95 kWh of heat, assuming perfect efficiency (which in the case of a combustible heat source is thermodynamically impossible), you would produce 167 grams of CO2



So here is a question for David Suzuki and all those applauding the ban on incandescent lights:
Is it better to put 77.9 grams or 167 grams of CO2 into the air?

It is pretty clear that for 259 days of the year in Toronto Ontario (and more than 259 days in points further north), the heat from an indandescent light is actually beneficial. And with Ontario grid electricity being as clean as it is today, that heat from the incandescent light is demonstrably and provably cleaner than that from the next-cleanest dedicated heat source.

The author is Vice President of Energy and Environment at the HDP Group Inc., an Ottawa-based management consultancy





How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.

 
 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bloomfield Opinion: Incandescent Bulbs


After a quiet start to the New Year, a lot of reaction - as seen by the last posts - has suddenly sprung up to the light bulb regulations in Canada and in particular the USA, obvious enough with its much bigger media market.

While many are of the typical "people stocking up", "what are your choices" variety, some more critical ones are also appearing.
The following can be said to be typical of those seeking limited government in general, more obvious from reading the full article.

Probably from being called "Freedom Light Bulb" the assumption keeps being made that this blog is about such Freedom of Choice.
Yes - and No.
As covered in the About this Blog page, the particular point of banning bulbs is how wrong it is from every aspect and every ideology, left, green, or right, that is, on actual and relevant energy savings, on overall sustainability and environmental perspectives, and ignoring that, still wrong on targeting bulbs by banning some of them.
Even if targeting is desired, market solutions are still possible, while on a liberal left perspective, a taxation policy would be more logical, as it is about consumption reduction rather than banning a product unsafe to use.

But free choice also certainly comes into it - all types of lighting having their advantages for different uses, and as the following says, a ban is clearly wrong on that basis too.

Below, Jan 16 column in North Jersey News (Bloomfield Life) Sue Ann Penna of Citizens for Limited Government, also with a radio show


Article Excerpts


Bloomfield opinion: Incandescent Bulbs

Approximately two thirds of Americans are not aware that the Thomas Edison incandescent light bulbs we have known all our life are now illegal to produce or import into the United States, effective Jan. 1. The patent for the incandescent light bulb was issued on Jan. 27, 1880.

Along with the death of the light bulb goes the death and destruction of another industry at the hands of the federal government.

The last light bulb factory in Winchester, Va., closed in 2010, taking with it 200 jobs. To add insult to injury, the costly government regulated light bulbs will now be manufactured in China, since there are no manufacturing plants in the United States.

As recent as last week, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) proposed legislation to repeal the ban on incandescent light bulbs....Once again, government elites and unelected bureaucrats, who could have turned around bad policy, are making decisions for us and impeding our freedom of choice. This decision was not based on public need. It is based on bureaucrats who believe that they know better which energy is good.

While some argue that we are oil dependent upon the Middle East and must find alternative energy sources, the argument does not hold true for electricity.
The United States is not dependent on any foreign country for coal, which produces electricity.

Government regulations ensure three things: job loss, higher costs for energy and less competition in the marketplace.

The death of the light bulb is just another chip at our freedom of choice.
Choice is the cornerstone of freedom. If the government had stayed out of the situation, the free market would have come up with a solution to address the high cost of energy and none of it would have included a mandate about what you were allowed or not allowed to buy.

As the shelves become bare and stores have sold the last of the incandescent light bulbs, maybe then there will be a public outcry about government intrusion into our lives, our choices and the free market.

RIP incandescent light bulb. You will be missed.

The writer is executive director of Citizens for Limited Government, based in Bloomfield.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

USA: Congress blocks Light Bulb Ban Funding


As of a few minutes ago as this is written, the House of Representatives has easily passed the Omnibus spending package 359 to 67, partly thwarting the light Bulb ban (blocking oversight funding).

January 14 article in USA Today by Wendy Koch

Excerpts:
Congress to bar enforcement of light-bulb phaseout
The $1.1 trillion spending bill, which covers all federal agencies
and is expected to pass the House and Senate this week, bars the
Department of Energy from spending money to enforce federal rules that
set tougher efficiency standards for light bulbs. Such a measure has
been attached to prior budget deals as well....

This phaseout -- begun in January 2012 with the 100-watt, followed by
the 75-watt last year and the 60-watt and 40-watt this month -- has
angered many Americans who dislike newer bulbs partly because of their
higher up-front costs. House Republicans have tried but failed to stop
the phaseout so they've focused instead on de-funding its enforcement.

In announcing the new budget deal, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman
of the House Appropriations Committee, called the
light-bulb-efficiency standard "onerous" and welcomed the enforcement
ban.


The issue is also covered Jan 14 on ARS Technica by John Timmer, and more widely repeated:
Unfortunately (!) he gets it wrong that the standards are repealed, rather than just the funding.
"As part of the new budget deal announced today, Congress has voted to eliminate standards for light bulb efficiency"
Perhaps that is why his story was widely reported on the internet.
It follows similar misunderstanding from previous budget blocks.

Nevertheless with slight editing, his remarks were true:
Recent Congresses have tried many times to repeal the standards, but these have all been blocked.
However, US budgets are often used as a vehicle to get policies enacted that couldn't pass otherwise, since having an actual budget is considered too valuable to hold up over relatively minor disputes. The repeal of the [funding of] these standards got attached to the budget and will be passed into law with it.


Following up on this, Washington Post today, Jan 15 in an article, asks...

My emphases and [] added comment:
....So what did Congress just do?

Tucked inside the $1.012 trillion spending bill that Congress is considering, there's a provision that would bar funding for enforcement of the new lightbulb standards. (It's the same bill that Burgess was pushing last summer and which he added to a 2011 budget bill.) That means the Energy Department can't spend any money to prohibit the manufacture or import of old bulbs.


Will this enforcement provision make any difference?

In some ways, no. All of the big manufacturers — General Electric, Philips, Sylvania — have been working for years to comply with the new standards, churning out new CFLs and halogens and LEDs. They're not expected to change course now.

But some stores could, in theory, try to sell the older incandescents if they can get their hands on them. Opponents of the enforcement provision have worried that foreign companies will do exactly that. "Given that American manufacturers have committed to following the law regardless of whether or not it is enforced," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) last year, "the only benefit of this ill-informed rider is to allow foreign manufacturers who may not feel a similar obligation—to import noncompliant light bulbs that will not only harm the investments made by U.S. companies, but place at risk the U.S. manufacturing jobs associated with making compliant bulbs."
[presumably more likely re distributors rather than manufacturers]

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. It's still illegal to make or import old lightbulbs. The rider just makes it a little easier to get away with it in practice.



Again, today:
Fox News 15 January 2014 unsigned article

My emphases added again:
Congress offers glimmer of hope for incandescent light bulb

The House is expected to vote on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that dictates the budgets for all federal agencies House Wednesday afternoon -- and it may be a desperately needed lifeline for the light bulb.

The bill includes a prohibition on funding for “the Administration’s onerous ‘light bulb’ standard,” as Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky) described it, which had sought to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of ordinary incandescent light bulbs but ultimately spelled the end of the road for the century-old technology.

A portion of that 2007 law, which finally took effect on Jan. 1, mandated that manufacturers improve their light bulbs: 40W bulbs must draw just 10.5W, and 60W bulbs must draw no more than 11W. The result is the effectively a ban: Incandescents simply can’t keep up with those twisty compact fluorescent (CFL) and newer LED bulbs.

But there's hope for those glass globes yet, however: Citing “a continued public desire for these products,” the Energy and Water Appropriations section of the bill would prohibit funds to implement or enforce the higher efficiency light bulb standards.

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used … to implement or enforce the standards established by the tables contained in section 325(i)(1)(B) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act,” reads section 322 of the bill.

Critics call the funding ban a nuisance, but said it likely won’t stop the shift toward more energy-efficient bulbs, according to USA Today.

"The market has marched forward despite this rider," Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the paper. "The manufacturers have all been saying -- we're going to comply anyway."

The demise of the incandescent bulb might come as a surprise to most Americans. A recent study by Lutron pointed out that fewer than 1 in 3 adults (just 28 percent) were aware of the planned phase out. A similar Socket Survey by Sylvania showed slightly more awareness -- 4 in 10 were aware of the phase out, it revealed.

A quick check of Home Depot’s website indicates no shortage of incandescent bulbs; the company sells a six-pack for just under $10 -- and for the born hoarder, a pack of 288 for $118.

In late December, Home Depot told FoxNews.com it had a six-month stockpile before the supplies ran out.



Comment

The amendment to the yearly Water and Energy bill was made in July 2013 by Texan Congressman Michael Burgess
and follows the same manoeuvre in 2012 and 2011.


In practice the result is less clear, as local manufacturers are wary to base production on temporary if to date yearly
Unsurprisingly Texas Congressmen have been behind this, since Gov Rick Perry legalized regular incandescents in Texas which would otherwise be subject to federal opposition, like Arizona gun laws etc


Interesting comment made in the USA Today article above by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), normally very much in favor of the ban as per their website.

With my emphasis
"The market has marched forward despite this rider," says Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. "The manufacturers have all been saying -- we're going to comply anyway."

Yet Matzner says the ban should be eliminated, because it can create a loophole for illegal imports of the old incandescents and doesn't allow DOE to help U.S. companies meet the new standards. The phaseout doesn't stop stores from selling remaining stock of the old bulbs but bars them from making or importing them.

Note, his remark
"the manufacturers have all been saying -- we're going to comply anyway" is presumably in regard to the recent legal block.
Otherwise, as amply covered - and referenced - elsewhere here, major manufacturers jumped in with green activists to seek the ban to stop any small or new local outfits from making the easily made simple generic patent-expired popular cheap bulbs, profitable to the local manufactures on small overheads, but admittedly less profitable than patented complex expensive new CFL/LED alternatives for the majors - and they also wanted "political payback" for any such encouraged investments.
This of course also follows the exact same tactic by the exact same manufacturers to stop small companies from making incandescent bulbs lasting longer than 1000 hours, under the Phoebus cartel, also covered previously here.
Even as the pro-ban lobby themselves typically say, albeit with a different rationale in justifying government legislation:
"The manufacturers had decades to stop making them - but didn't".

As always, the main point is not of manufacturers naturally seeking to make profit and to lobby for them, but rather that legislating politicians wrongfully hand them over...



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Canada Government Research on Light Bulb Heat Effect


Canada heat from bulbs official study
This fits in with other Canadian, Finnish etc research
See http://ceolas.net/#li6x

The reduction in the lighting energy use was almost offset by the increase in the space-heating energy use

The Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT) "Benchmarking Home Energy Savings from Energy-Efficient Lighting" research from 2008 and seemingly oddly ignored since by the Natural Resources Department behind the Canadian light bulb ban, as covered earlier, in their switchover savings assumptions.
[The National Research Council (NRC) and Natural Resources Government Ministry (NRCan) jointly operate the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT]


Excerpt
With conventional lighting, between 89 to 96 per cent of lighting energy use is converted to heat and contributes to space heating as internal gains.
The few losses associated with lighting energy occurred mainly where lights were located close to windows....
The reduction in the lighting energy use was almost offset by the increase in the space-heating energy use

While cooling season (and any air conditioning cooling) as mentioned negate or work against savings at such times, the obvious point then is that incandescent use is voluntary and may be preferred for light quality reasons.
Of course in Canada and similar countries, when it's dark, it's often cold, even in spring and fall (autumn), whereby the heat benefit effect is greater overall anyway.

Finally,
notice that this study only takes the heat factor into account.
There are many more reasons that savings don't hold up - whether as energy savings for society, or money savings for consumers.
See the lighting section of http://ceolas.net for a full account, or the relevant summary points from here onwards, in "How Regulations are Wrongly Justified" on this blog, as also linked below from its start.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified 14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

More USA and Canada reaction against the Light Bulb Ban


South Carolina Congressman Rep. Jeff Duncan has launched a bill seeking to repeal the federal light bulb ban.
As seen on http;//ceolas.net/#bills (updated last year, possibly more since) several bills both federally and in around a dozen individual states have been launched in the past - possibly a few more since the last of those mentioned bills. It should be said that many seem speculative to please a local constituency base, but for all that of course a welcome marker of opinion.
To my knowledge only Texas have actually legalized them under Gov Perry, although Arizona and South Carolina have been close under likewise Republican Parliaments and Governorships (Governors Brewer and Haley). The practical value of state versus federal law is always in question, and depends on sympathetic local Attorney-Generals, as with Arizona gun laws, California (and Colorado) marijuana laws etc, and the willingness and capability of federal oversight.
South Carolina has, or had, independent small incandescent manufacturing, whether or not that played a part in this case.

Rep Jeff Duncan's bill can be seen here, on a Govtrack page

Excerpt, main points
House of Representatives US Congress
January 8, 2014
Mr. Duncan of South Carolina introduced the following bill
H. R. 3818
This Act may be cited as the "Thomas Edison BULB Act".
Lighting energy efficiency
Subtitle B of title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110–140) is repealed.



Also some further reaction in Canada...
which, as covered before, is adopting USA law for North American trade reasons.
Apart from the usual "people are stocking up" kind of articles also seen in the USA, some more petitions have been launched against the ban, for example on thepetitionsite.com and on change.org, also as seen Canadians signing here, on moveon.org.
As seen, they seem as much directed against fluorescents as in saving incandescents as such, and understandably has not had as much publicity and reaction as other efforts, notably Ontario Federal MP Cheryl Gallant's campaign as per previous post.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Most Americans against the Light Bulb Ban"


January 8 update, new ending. [Original post also January 8]


Rasmussen Survey, conducted January 2-3 and as reported January 7 2014

Only one-in-four Americans support the ban on conventional 40- and 60-watt light bulbs in the United States that went into effect January 1, and the same number say they or someone they know stocked up on the old bulbs beforehand.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 60% of American Adults still oppose the ban on traditional light bulbs ordered by the federal government in the name of improved energy efficiency. That's down only slightly from 67% in July 2011 when the government first announced the new regulations. Twenty-five percent (25%) now support the light bulb ban, up from 20% two-and-a-half years ago. Fifteen percent (15%) remain undecided.

The national survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on January 2-3, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.


The questions asked...
National Survey of 1,000 Adults Conducted January 2-3, 2014 By Rasmussen Reports

1* How closely have you followed recent news stories about changes in the manufacturing of light bulbs?

2* While effectively banning the sale of traditional light bulbs, a new law will allow only more expensive light bulbs that are expected to last longer and be more energy efficient. Should the sale of traditional light bulbs be banned?

3* The Energy Department says that the new light bulbs will cost more up front but save money in the long run. How likely is it that the new light bulbs will save money in the long run?

4* Is it the government’s job to tell Americans what kind of light bulb to use?

5* Suppose the new light bulbs don’t work so well and end up costing more money in the long run. How likely is it that the government will then allow the sale of traditional light bulbs?

6* Will the new fluorescent or halogen bulbs be good for the environment, bad for the environment or will it they have no impact on the environment?

7* Have you or anyone you know bought large quantities of traditional bulbs to use once they are no longer available in stores?

8* Are you buying the new energy efficient bulbs because you want to or because traditional light bulbs are no longer available?

9* Who would do a better job of providing quality products for consumers-- government planners and managers or companies hoping to make a profit?

NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence


Today, January 8 2014 sees a new press release

January 8, 2014:
Just 18% of American Adults believe it is the government’s job to tell people in this country what kind of light bulb to use. Seventy-two percent (72%) disagree and feel it is not the government’s job to make that call. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.


Which happens to be identical to 2009

Rasmussen July 2009:
Just 18% of American Adults believe it is the government’s job to tell people in this country what kind of light bulb to use. Seventy-two percent (72%) disagree and feel it is not the government’s job to make that call. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.


This is presumably an unintentional mistake? ;-)
The comparative January 7, 2014 press release, as per above, edited to fit in

Twenty-five percent (25%) support the light bulb ban....60% of American Adults still oppose...Fifteen percent (15%) remain undecided.

For the sake of completion, the July 2011 survey
Just 20% of adults think the sale of traditional light bulbs should be banned. Sixty-seven percent (67%) oppose such a ban. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.
[Thank you to MB Snow, since retired, for the 2011 information, The Snow Report, which has more about that survey]



Comment

Lies, damn lies, and statistics...
There are other surveys in the past, as by USA Today (more below), purporting to show "How people welcome regulations and the great new light bulbs".

There are 2 main points here.

Firstly, how the questions are asked
(eg "are you happy about the great new bulbs" versus "should government tell you what light bulb to buy" kind of juxtapositions, with nuances in between).

Secondly, and more importantly, that bans are wrong either way.
Why?
New bulbs are desirable - No point banning old bulbs
New bulbs are not desirable - No point banning old bulbs


If new bulbs are "so great and welcome", presumably they would be bought voluntarily, and there is little savings in not allowing the presumably low sales of alternatives for those who still want them.
Conversely it's hardly great either, of course, to ban a more desirable choice.
[More cynically, one might also ask, if people really think the "alternatives are so great", why haven't they already bought them then? Standard light bulbs remain the most popular choice.]

Overall,
as the more detailed surveys also show, people certainly have bought new kinds of bulbs.
They just don't want all their light bulbs to be non-incandescent (and as per other posts, halogen replacement incandescents are also legislated to be banned in North America, Europe and Australia on tier 2 regulations).
Switch all your bulbs and save money, is like saying
Eat only bananas, and save money.

See the issues around these kind of surveys, as already summarized in the "How Regulations are Wrongly Justified" 14 points rundown.



To illustrate some of this:

The USA Today paper has in the past put out survey results showing how "Americans welcome the regulations" and indeed new light bulbs themselves.

Nearly three of four U.S. adults, or 71%, say they have replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs (light emitting diodes) and 84% say they are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the alternatives

.... which incidentally applies to switching one or more bulbs, not a total switchover - again statistical manipulation!
As it happens, the same article author had 10 days earlier pointed out
Types of lightbulbs consumers have in their homes:
Incandescents 82%
Compact fluorescent 72%
Halogen 39%
Light emitting diodes 27%
Source: Sylvania Socket Survey



As for the more recent 2013 Sylvania socket survey, it finds that
65 percent of Americans plan to switch to more energy-efficient lighting technologies, as a result of federally mandated legislation that is increasing efficiency standards     [well, they hardly have a choice!]
More than half (59%) of consumers are excited about the phase out, as it will help Americans use more energy efficient light bulbs.     [why - who was stopping them using them?]

Conversely, it also says
30 percent of consumers say that they plan to buy a lot of traditional light bulbs where still available and will continue using them. This is a sharp increase from the 2012 Socket Survey which showed just 16 percent said that they plan to stockpile bulbs.

Given what was said about different lighting having different advantages, this is hardly surprising, the contradiction is only apparent.
Yet, most US media seem unable to make balanced appropriate remarks:
"Liberal/Eco" side focusing on the "welcome" bit, "Republican/Conservative" side on the "stockpiling" bit, others seemingly "perplexed" at the findings, which are therefore not really contradictory at all.

It's a bit tiring to be an assumed retrograde lover of obsolescent technology.
It seems incredibly hard for some to understand that being against a ban does not necessitate being against other forms of lighting.
Of course, fluorescent bulbs or LEDs have disadvantages too, but disadvantages are also naturally highlighted in objections, if one is forced to use such lighting where incandescents would have been better (and yes it is a "ban" on incandescents including halogens, for reasons covered at length elsewhere, including tier 2 US/EU etc law references).
All lighting has different advantages for different uses.
Politicians that have something in their heads that can be likened to a brain might understand this. Then again, they might not.



How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.
 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Odd Green Crony Capitalist Coalition Behind Banning Bulbs



January 7 article by Shawn Regan, from Reason.Com
Good on the industrial policy behind the ban


Lights Out For America’s Favorite Light Bulb

Happy New Year, America! Your favorite light bulb is now illegal.

Well, sort of. As of January 1, U.S. businesses can no longer manufacture or import “general service” incandescent bulbs—the most popular light bulbs in America. Consumers can still buy and use them while supplies last, but the remaining inventory won’t be around for long. Home Depot says it will be out of the bulbs within six months. Some consumers have started to stockpile.

It’s all part of the energy efficiency standards mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The law already killed off the 100-watt incandescent bulb in 2012, followed by the 75-watt bulb in 2013. Now, in the final step of the phaseout, the minimum efficiency standards have effectively banned the ubiquitous 40- and 60- watt light bulbs.

When industry and environmental groups claim that a regulation will solve all problems, consumers beware. It’s probably green cronyism in disguise.

The ban is crony capitalism in its most seductive form — when it’s disguised as green.

Major light bulb manufacturers supported the ban from the outset.
The profit margin on old-style bulbs was pitifully low, and consumers just weren’t buying the higher-margin efficiency bulbs. New standards were needed, a lobbyist for the National Electrical Manufacturing Association told Congress in 2007, “in order to further educate consumers on the benefits of energy-efficient products.”

So Philips Electronics and other manufacturers joined with environmental groups to push for tighter lighting standards.
As the New York Times Magazine explained in 2011, “Philips told its environmental allies it was well positioned to capitalize on the transition to new technologies and wanted to get ahead of an efficiency movement that was gaining momentum abroad and in states like California.” After much negotiation, a classic “bootleggers-and-Baptists” coalition was born. Industry and environmental groups agreed to endorse legislation to increase lighting efficiency by 25 to 30 percent.

Incandescent light bulbs, we’re told, are vastly inferior to the newfangled alternatives available today.
The compact fluorescents lamps (CFLs), LEDs, and halogen bulbs are an apparent no-brainer: They last longer and convert much more of their energy into light rather than heat, all while cutting back on your energy bill. (So, of course, the government must stop you from ever making the mistake of choosing the traditional bulbs.)

Except many consumers aren’t buying it.
The EPA estimates that, of the four billion light-bulb sockets in United States, more than three billion still hold incandescent bulbs. “By 2014, the traditional incandescent light bulbs… will be virtually obsolete,” claimed a 2007 press release from former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the ban’s original sponsor. But according to the latest industry data, incandescents still make up nearly 65 percent of all U.S. light-bulb shipments.

Many consumers are turned off by the higher upfront costs of the alternatives.
A single 40-watt LED bulb costs $7.50 or more, while a traditional incandescent bulb goes for around 40 cents. Some are finding that the CFLs don’t last nearly as long as their supporters claim—especially if they are switched on and off frequently, or if they are attached to a dimmer switch.

The list of complaints about the “efficient” bulbs goes on:
They are often slow to respond, sensitive to high temperatures, and can cast a harsh and unattractive tone. CFLs also contain a small amount of mercury, which requires extensive and careful cleanup when a bulb breaks.

And they may not be saving us much energy after all.
The typical U.S. home uses no less energy per capita than it did in the 1970s, despite an onslaught of efficiency standards for everything from refrigerators and televisions to the amount of power consumed when appliances are in “standby mode.” The money saved in the long run by using these appliances is often spent on even more power-sucking gadgets. And if light bulbs cost less to use, why not just leave the lights on longer?

The light-bulb ban is an example of how political coalitions are formed to force regulations on the general public that benefit a few large producers.
A recent survey found that six out of every ten Americans are still in the dark about the latest bulb ban. Meanwhile, the dimwitted light-bulb policy just became the law of the land.
The lesson here is straightforward: When industry and environmental groups claim that a regulation will solve all problems, consumers beware. It’s probably green cronyism in disguise.

Shawn Regan is a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a nonprofit research institute in Bozeman, Montana, dedicated to improving environmental quality through property rights and markets.



This complements a January 1 article by Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner.
Tim Carney has for several years covered the industrial policy behind the USA ban.

Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs

Say goodbye to the regular light bulb this New Year.

For more than a century, the traditional incandescent bulb was the symbol of American innovation. Starting Jan. 1, the famous bulb is illegal to manufacture in the U.S., and it has become a fitting symbol for the collusion of big business and big government.

The 2007 Energy Bill, a stew of regulations and subsidies, set mandatory efficiency standards for most light bulbs. Any bulbs that couldn't produce a given brightness at the specified energy input would be illegal. That meant the 25-cent bulbs most Americans used in nearly every socket of their home would be outlawed.

People often assume green regulations like this represent the triumph of environmental activists trying to save the planet. That’s rarely the case, and it wasn't here. Light bulb manufacturers whole-heartedly supported the efficiency standards. General Electric, Sylvania and Philips — the three companies that dominated the bulb industry — all backed the 2007 rule, while opposing proposals to explicitly outlaw incandescent technology (thus leaving the door open for high-efficiency incandescents).

This wasn't a case of an industry getting on board with an inevitable regulation in order to tweak it. The lighting industry was the main reason the legislation was moving. As the New York Times reported in 2011, “Philips formed a coalition with environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council to push for higher standards.”

Industry support for the regulations struck lawmakers and journalists as a ringing endorsement of the regulations. Republican Congressmen Fred Upton, who has since flip-flopped and attacked the regulations, cosponsored the light bulb provision in 2007. His excuse, according to conservatives I spoke to: It couldn't be that bad if the industry supported it.

Liberals used this very argument to ridicule Republicans' 2011 efforts to repeal the law. Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer defended the rule by saying, “The standards are supported by the lightbulb industry.”

Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress pinned repeal efforts on the “extremist Tea Party wing of the party, which opposes all government standards, even ones that the lightbulb industry itself wants.”
That “even” signifies that the industry’s support indicates consensus. Instead, it signifies how consumers lose.

Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

So, simply the threat of competition kept profit margins low on the traditional light bulb — that's the magic of capitalism. GE and Sylvania searched for higher profits by improving the bulb — think of the GE Soft White bulb. These companies, with their giant research budgets, made advances with halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies, and even high-efficiency incandescents. They sold these bulbs at a much higher prices — but they couldn’t get many customers to buy them for those high prices. That's the hard part about capitalism — consumers, not manufacturers, get to demand what something is worth.

Capitalism ruining their party, the bulb-makers turned to government. Philips teamed up with NRDC. GE leaned on its huge lobbying army — the largest in the nation — and soon they were able to ban the low-profit-margin bulbs.

The high-tech, high-cost, high-margin bulbs have advantages: They live longer and use much less electricity. In the long run, this can save people money. But depending on your circumstances, these gains might be mitigated or eradicated.

The current replacement for traditional bulbs are compact fluorescents (those curly bulbs). They give off UV rays, contain mercury gas, take a while to get bright and don’t last any longer than regular bulbs if you flip them on and off a lot.

Newer technologies, like LED bulbs, are better than CFLs, and they supposedly last 20 years. But they cost even more. In your office building, they probably make sense. In your house? Well they won't last two decades in a house full of kids who wrestle with the dog and throw footballs around the living room (maybe Congress should ban domestic wrestling and passing).

There is a middle ground between everyone using traditional bulbs and traditional bulbs being illegal. It's called free choice: Let people choose if they want more efficient and expensive bulbs. Maybe they'll chose LEDs for some purposes and cheap bulbs for others.

But consumer choice is no good either for nanny-staters or companies seeking high profit margins.

Technologies often run the course from breakthrough innovation to obsolete. Think of the 8-track, the Model T or Kodachrome film. But the market didn’t kill the traditional light bulb. Government did it, at the request of big business.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com His column appears Sunday and Wednesday on washingtonexaminer.com.





Comment

A lot more on the industrial policy behind the banning of light bulbs in the USA, Europe and elsewhere: http://ceolas.net/#li1ax
Specifically in an American context, also the "I Light Bulb" eBook by M.P. Leahy and Howard Brandston.
Howard Brandston, a well known New York lighting designer, was involved from the start in recurrent Senate hearings, and has covered the strange workings of the NEMA sub-committee (Philips, GE, Osram/Sylvania) in seeking the USA 2007 ban and indeed in their seeking to uphold it through 2011 (and no doubt 2014) reviews and bill attempts at tightening legislation further. His specific webpage and campaign against the regulations: http://www.concerninglight.com/commentary.html

The major manufacturers not unnaturally want to sell more profitable patented expensive alternative bulbs, and feel that any obstruction would be reneging on "promises" by politicians to smooth the way for them through initial consultation and legislation as per 2007 US law, 2008 Canada law, or 2009 Australia and EU laws.
Philips, GE, Osram/Sylvania cooperated to ensure incandescents did not have more than 1000 hour lifespan (the Phoebus cartel) and then cooperated to get rid of them altogether. Slam-Dunk.



Paul Wheaton

Note the irony:
Any outsider would of course consider it unusual that manufacturers would voluntarily seek to legally limit what they are allowed to make, and to welcome such laws once they are made.
The manufacturers are therefore repeatedly lauded by perennially clueless journalists for their "great green conscience", and of course happily strengthen such an image in their press releases.

Somewhat more perceptive observers remark that the manufacturers could have voluntarily stopped making the bulbs, just like they stop making much else in the name of progress - but that would therefore have allowed small and new and local manufacturers to happily and profitably make the patent expired generic cheap bulbs, without global distributive overheads or commitments to expensive alternatives.

In turn misunderstanding the process, "progressive green" people claim that legislation was necessary or the manufacturers would "never" have stopped making the old bulbs.
Apart from ignoring that incandescent lighting might have light quality and other advantages beyond crass economic or energy use reasoning (and the supposed savings not being there anyway as per other argumentation), this ignores what "progress" is: and it is hardly expensively imitative replacement clones of incandescent bulbs.
Increased - not reduced - competition drives progress, and it is conveniently forgotten that CFLs and LED bulbs were invented in the presence - not the absence - of incandescent competition, moreover that new inventions can always be helped to market albeit without continuing subsidies, allowing the best alternatives to flourish, with "expensive to buy but cheap in the long run" advantages highlighted by imaginative advertising, as is done for other products.

Overall it is of course odd to ban popular safe products just to reduce electricity consumption.
There are plenty of ways to reduce say coal use or emission or electricity, whether by legislation or taxation, and plenty of informative possibilities to say encourage lighting to be switched off rather than to ban a particular choice of it.

There is nothing but idiocy behind this banning of light bulbs.


How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.