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

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.


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

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

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.


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]

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.

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]


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.
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.]

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.


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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

USA and Canada Light Bulb Ban:
Now and in the Future

Updates Jan 3

Given the entry into force January 1 of the US ban on most remaining incandescent light bulbs for general service use, a review of the law as it stands and future implications.
Note that the same will apply to Canada, adopting the same regulations as USA in a tighter timeframe: Official link, Canada regulations.

"Beyond 2014, while also allowing LEDs, the new rule for general household lighting of 45 lumens per Watt happens to be exactly that of fluorescent 'energy saving' bulbs..."

 Gary Locke

Edited and somewhat updated sections of the accompanying website,
http://ceolas.net/#li01inx "What is Banned and When"

Lumens old Watts new Watts Min Life min CRI Date Start
1490-2600 100 72 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2012
1050-1489 75 531,000 hrs801/1/2013
750-104960 43 1,000 hrs 80 1/1/2014
310-749 40 29 1,000 hrs80 1/1/2014

CANADA: Same rules, 100 + 75W start 1 Jan 2014, 60 + 40W bulbs 31 Dec 2014.
January 1 2015 therefore sees Canada "in phase" with US regulations.

From the legislation, starting 2012 for General Service Incandescent Light Bulbs:
A phase-out based on the lumen (brightness) rating of the bulbs, rather than their wattage.
Standard bright 100 Watt equivalent household light bulbs can therefore be at most 72 Watts equivalent from January 2012, and so on with increasing stringency.
There are also lifespan and CRI (color rendering index) provisions. The coloring rendering index measures how accurately colors are shown.

Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007/Title III/Subtitle B/Section 321
"The Secretary of Energy shall report to Congress on the time frame for commercialization of lighting to replace incandescent and halogen incandescent lamp technology"

2 tiers, based on 2012-2014 and 2014-2017, backstop rule extending to 2020.
A third tier is planned, provisionally set for 2020: "DOE [the Department of Energy] is also required under the EISA 2007 to initiate a rulemaking in 2020 to determine whether the standards in effect for general service incandescent lamps should be increased" as per the DOE fact sheet linked below. The understanding since then is that this will likely be brought forward.
Aim: to reduce the allowed wattage for incandescent bulbs by 28 percent starting in 2012, becoming a 67 percent reduction by 2020 at the latest, in accordance with the defined annual review procedures.
Should the review procedures not have produced a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt by January 1, 2017, that sees a backstop final rule come into force:
Effective January 1, 2020, the Secretary shall prohibit the sale of such general service lamps that do not by then meet a minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt.

`(i) The term 'general service incandescent lamp' means a standard incandescent or halogen type lamp that—
`(I) is intended for general service applications;
`(II) has a medium screw base;
`(III) has a lumen range of not less than 310 lumens and not more than 2,600 lumens; and
`(IV) is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.

Prohibited act... for any manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or private labeler to distribute in commerce an adapter that—
`(A) is designed to allow an incandescent lamp that does not have a medium screw base to be installed into a fixture or lampholder with a medium screw base socket; and
`(B) is capable of being operated at a voltage range at least partially within 110 and 130 volts.'
[In short, to stop people from getting what they want, manufacturers and sellers are not allowed to provide adapters that allow other incandescent lamps to use medium screw base 110-130 volt sockets]

List of exceptions: Appliance lamps, Black light lamps, Bug lamps, Colored lamps, Infrared lamps, Left-hand thread lamps, Marine lamps, Marine’s signal service lamps, Mine service lamps, Plant light lamps, Reflector lamps, Rough service lamps, Shatter-resistant lamps (including shatter-proof and shatter-protected), Sign service lamps, Silver bowl lamps, Showcase lamps, 3-way incandescent lamps, Traffic signal lamps, Vibration service lamps, G shape lamps with a diameter of 5” or more, T shape lamps that use no more than 40W or are longer than 10”, and all B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G-25, G-30, M-14, or S lamps of 40W or less.

Sales will be monitored to avoid substitution effects - see below.
These will also be reduced on mentioned planned tier 3 regulation by 2020.

Lighting section 321 of Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (pdf)
Application: DOE appliance standards homepage, details (pdf), details with list of exceptions.
Industry info page: This also includes more information on the law for "modified spectrum" lamp types (less energy efficient ordinary bulbs that have tinting to make the light more white in color).
For extensive information 2012-2014 including reflector lamps etc, with illustrations:
0sram-Sylvania document (pdf)

Greenwashing Lamps good post about the US ban
Also the past posts on the specifications here, with a 2012-2014 update here.

Points regarding the Legislation

The manufacture and import - but not the sale itself - of general service incandescent lighting is progressively restricted, beginning with ordinary 100 W bulbs.
So the sale of existing stock of the targeted bulbs will still be allowed.
Bulbs equivalent to 25W and below, of 150-200W, and of higher wattages, are also not affected, subject to sales monitoring as with specialist bulbs.

Additionally, the January 1 2012 packaging requirement changed the way light bulbs are referred to.
Instead of buying a "72 watt light bulb," one might purchase a "1500 lumens" light bulb.
See the blog post on packaging and labeling in the USA and the EU.

Halogen Replacements
The Halogen etc incandescent general service mains voltage replacements, which the initial ban was geared to allow via the typical "72 Watt" replacements for 100 W bulbs (etc) found in stores,
will therefore also be banned sometime after 2014. They are typically 20-25 lumen per Watt, way below 45 lumen per Watt equating to fluorescent bulbs. LEDs also pass the standard.
If the review process beginning in 2014 does not ban Halogen replacements by 2017, the backstop final rule that kicks in will ensure a ban by 2020.

Of course, legislation can be overturned.
But any legal change has to pass both Houses of Congress and get the President's signature. Hardly anytime soon.
Rather, the Obama administration with Senate Democrat cooperation has sought to tighten rather than relax energy efficiency regulations, including on lighting.

Besides, Halogens are themselves still different and more complex than ordinary simple incandescents, and much more expensive for marginal savings, so not popular either with politicians (no halogen switchover programs!) or with consumers in a free choice.
Halogen or other incandescent development has moreover been ruled out by major manufacturers, as per meeting with the EU (European) Commission November 25 last.

About the color rendering index (CRI):
This, more precisely is "the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source".
According to the legislation, CFL, LED, or incandescent light sources "used to satisfy lighting applications traditionally served by general service incandescent lamps" must as seen have a minimum CRI rating of 80.
Incandescents, in performing as "black body radiators" typically have a perfect or near perfect 100 rating (unlike CFLs or LEDs), so the lesser 80 requirement, if followed by manufacturers, degrades current performance. In other words, yet another issue when it comes to targeting this technology.
Light sources with a high CRI are also desirable in color-critical applications such as photography and cinematography, and even when fluorescent lamps or LEDs have high CRI ratings, their spiky emission spectra do not correlate well with color rendering quality in practice, so that the photography and movie-making issues remain.

Ban Anomaly
It's a funny world and a funny US Congress.
Notice the anomaly that 75 W "dim" bulbs are allowed, but a 75 W "bright" bulb is effectively banned!
In other words, as the official sources confirm, incandescent bulbs are being banned on the basis of their "lumen" brightness - not on their energy use, bright bulbs being banned first.
So you can still, for a while, buy a 100W incandescent bulb if it's dim enough, which might, at least at first, seem an attractive alternative even to regular incandescents, since dimmer incandescent bulbs of given wattages tend to have have longer lifespans (the trade off).
That's just the start of it....there are specific legal workarounds to that effect, higher energy use but longer life for a bulb of given brightness.

Ban Workarounds
CFLs and LEDs have brightness issues, especially omnidirectionally to light up rooms - and they get dimmer with age.
That may mean using more of them to light up a room, negating savings, along with all the other reasons that savings don't hold up in practice, as covered via the left hand links here, especially the summary page link as also found at the bottom of this post.
But the focus here is on the incandescent bulbs themselves, and how they might continue to be used.

Rough Service
One is the "rough service" bulb route, for example Newcandescent incandescent manufacturer (who conspicuously don't state bulb brightness!) eg 100W 130V 10,000 hrs $2.88 bulb, or Aero-Tech , 100W 120V 20 000hr bulb, 1000 lumen, for $2 [both manufacturers with minimum order conditions]
That makes the Aero-Tech bulb brightness somewhere between 1000 hour standard incandescent 60W bulbs (900 lumen) and 75W bulbs (1200 lumen), regular 110-120V 100W bulbs being around 1700 lumen.
While such "rough service" classed sturdier bulbs are allowed subject to sales monitoring as a workaround to get incandescents, and it's welcome that manufacturers are supplying them to meet such consumer demand, the bulbs would therefore otherwise be more of a convenience measure for difficult to reach locations - rather than to save energy or money for required brightness.

Raised Voltage
As also with the Newcandescent bulb, many other currently legal bulbs eg "long life halogen" type replacements are marketed on a longer lifespan basis, this time from raising the voltage usually to 130V - but again, on a "dimmer bulb" 1000 lumen or so for 100W rating.
[As an aside, European and other 220V bulbs are noticeably dimmer than American ones, 100W only c.1300 lumen but rated 1000 hrs lifespan versus 750 hrs on US standard requirement]

AC to DC
A third way also marketed as a workaround is via solutions like Powerdisc.com:
Quote: "By converting the electricity power used by the bulb from AC to DC, the Envirolite PowerDisc significantly reduces energy consumption up to 42% and also extends the bulb life up to 100 times therefore reducing bulb replacement costs." The website quotes around 30% lumen reduction along the lines of 130 Volt lamps, but that this brightness will be better maintained through the bulb life.
It is also more flexibly applicable to any incandescent bulb, just by putting a small disc on the bottom of it. While it does not stop the bulbs being banned, it therefore again extends their life. Good American inventive, and combative. spirit!

 Christena Dowsett

Texas Hold 'Em
While some states like California and Nevada and the Canadian British Columbia province have sought to precede federal regulations, others have sought to stop them.
Most notably, Gov Perry signed into law incandescents as being legal in Texas June 2011 (Texas Allows Regular Incandescent Bulbs). The practical implications are less clear, supposedly that is only for local manufacture and sale, and it comes under similar federal-defying local laws like Arizona gun law or California /Colorado marijuana laws.
Still, Gov Perry got help from Republican colleagues Joe Barton and Michael Burgess in Congress, House Energy Committee, in attempts at thwarting federal regulations, including achieving the specific albeit temporary block of funding for federal oversight of regulations in Texas and elsewhere.
South Carolina Gov Nikki Haley may sign similar bill albeit stuck at end of senate stage there, having local small independent manufacturing, apparently awaiting federal and Texas repeal efforts - in fact around a dozen state repeal bills have been launched, most though likely speculative for a local constituency base without hope of success (similar MP campaign effort seen in Canada, as in a recent post here).

Uncle Sam Strikes Back: Sales Monitoring
Joining hands with Uncle Maple Leaf...

Exemption reversal condition: The Act includes a provision whereby, in cooperation with NEMA, sales of certain exempted lamps will be monitored, specifically:
• rough service
• vibration service
• 2601-3300 lumen general service (150-200W)
• 3-way
• shatter-resistant lamps

For each of these lamp types, if sales double above the increase modeled for a given year — signaling that consumers are shifting from standard incandescents to these incandescents and thereby supposedly not saving energy — the lamp type will lose the exemption.

Consequence: A requirement that any such popular lamp type can then only be sold "in a package containing 1 lamp", and with a maximum 40 watt rating in most cases (95-watt for 2601-3300 lumen ie 150-200W lamps, variably reduced for 3-way lamps).

In other words, if sales go up, further restrictions arise, and only 1 lamp packages may be sold:
Buy several packages, or walk out the shop and back in again to buy another one.

Note that tier 3 regulations by 2020 is planned to cut down on allowed exemptions anyway.

EU too
Too much to go into here, the EU is not behind in elaborate checks and monitoring.
See previous posts under the EU tag. It includes Commission proposals to ban fittings for special bulbs which are modified to take regular bulbs, and the German Energy Commissioner seeking to extend the 50 German store inspectors he apparently got to inspect "rough service" sales in ordinary stores in that country, to EU-wide inspections.
An earlier Irish Government proposal has sought to fine the distribution of illegal (imported) incandescent bulbs by individual citizens eg to neighbors with a 5000 euro first offence fine, and a 50 000 euro fine alternatively 6 months prison for repeat offence. Such would of course be on top of any customs etc fines for illegal imports generally.

Pssst...want to buy a light bulb...


The crass idiocy of a bureaucrat ruled world:
Do whatever it takes, to stop people from buying what they want, who in turn obviously do what they can, to satisfy their desires.
Above all, do not make any rational decisions, to actually deal with energy or emission issues, as per other posts here and the ceolas.net site.

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.