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DOE Proposal Exempts Certain Light Bulbs From Efficiency Standards

light bulbs
(Photo Credit: vivere libero, Flickr Creative Commons)

The Department of Energy under the Trump administration proposed this week to exempt certain types of light bulbs from federal efficiency standards that take effect next year. This proposal is part of the administration’s push to ease regulations, Reuters reported.

When Trump became president, he signed an executive order requiring agencies to identify two prior regulations for elimination each time a new regulation gets issued. Now the DOE wants to ditch two rules published by the Obama administration in January 2017 that would have expanded the number of light bulbs subject to federal efficiency standards, Timothy Gardner reported for Reuters.

In a notice released this week, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy said that “the legal basis underlying those revisions misconstrued existing law.”

The new proposal would exempt three-way bulbs, candle-shaped bulbs, reflector bulbs used in recessed lighting, and others from having to comply with efficiency standards that go into effect on January 1, 2020, Gardner noted in Reuters.

Utility Dive reported last year that the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), a group representing light bulb manufacturers, sued the DOE in 2017 over the rule. NEMA argued that “that the marketplace is doing an excellent job of transitioning to more efficient lighting solutions.”

Efficiency advocates and environmentalists criticized the DOE’s new proposal.

The Alliance to Save Energy urged the agency to reconsider its proposal. “There aren’t many people out there clamoring for outdated light bulbs that use four or five times as much energy,” said Jason Hartke, president of the nonprofit bipartisan alliance.

Noah Horowitz, director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, called the DOE proposal dangerous. “Even with today’s highly efficient LED light bulbs on the market, Trump’s Department of Energy wants to keep 2.7 billion of our lighting sockets mired in a world of dinosaur, energy-guzzling lighting technology that basically hasn’t been updated for more than a hundred years,” he said. Horowitz predicted that the new proposal would end up in court.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy said that, based on their analysis last summer with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, the rollback would cause US electricity use to increase by 80 billion kWh per year. “DOE’s plan would also stifle innovation, eliminating a powerful regulatory incentive for manufacturers and retailers to invest in high quality, energy-efficient LED light bulbs,” the ACEEE added.

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