Lights Going out for the Incandescent Bulb

According to the Los Angeles Times, California Utilities and Commerce Committee approved legislation that would prohibit the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. The committee passed AB 722 in a 7–2 vote.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D) praised the outcome, saying, “You can replace just about any bulb in the house and save a significant amount of money.”

He added that supplanting incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency compact fluorescent bulbs would also help the environment. The committee agreed, noting in its analysis that banning the sale of incandescent bulbs in the state would help in the fight against global warming by keeping 1.82 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released in the atmosphere.

Ontario, Canada, has adopted a similar legislation, and it follows Australia, which announced in February plans to get rid of all incandescent bulbs by 2009.

But representatives from the lighting industry and the three major light bulb manufacturing companies said it would have been better if lawmakers did not single out a particular type of bulb and instead passed legislation that established state efficiency standards for all lights.

Utilities seem to be in support of the fluorescent bulbs, and they are helping to integrate them in another way. Southern California Edison Co. asked the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve a slight increase in an existing energy bill surcharge paid by Edison’s customers so that it can distribute free six-packs of energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to 1 million low-income families. According to the utility, the bulbs would save the average household about $72 in lighting costs each year while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the need to generate 278 million kilowatt-hours of electricity—equivalent to the power used by 35,000 homes—if all 1 million homes that receive the bulbs use them.

Southern California Edison has already subsidized the sale of 6 million fluorescent bulbs, resulting in savings of an estimated 330 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. It provides manufacturers and retailers rebates that allow cost savings to be passed onto consumers.     EC

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