Why the BULB Act is Bad for Consumers

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By Shannon Baker-Branstetter on Monday, July 11th, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this evening on legislation that would repeal efficiency standards for light bulbs put in place in 2007.

Please allow us to shed a little light on why this legislation is a really bad idea.

In short, the legislation (H.R. 2417, or the “Bulb Act”) would increase consumer energy costs, waste power, and diminish consumers’ lighting choices.

Despite what many critics have said, the 2007 standards do NOT ban incandescent bulbs. Rather, they are technology-neutral and manufacturers have already developed more efficient incandescent bulbs that are available on the market today.

In fact, the efficiency standards have enhanced the numerous lighting options available to consumers, as inefficient models have been scheduled to be phased out of the market as new options to replace them have been developed.

And this is no small matter in terms of dollars and cents. Lighting accounts for 10-15 percent of household electricity use and upgrading to more efficient bulbs is one of the easiest ways for consumers to save energy dollars.

Repealing the 2007 standards would undermine an easy way for consumers to trim their electric bills. The repeal would also increase demand on the power grid, which increases the cost of electricity.

Consumers Union believes H.R. 2417 should be rejected, along with any other legislation that seeks to roll back the 2007 energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Several other consumers organizations have joined us in this stance, including the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center, Public Citizen, and National Consumers League.

And it’s not just consumer groups that feel this way.  Industry groups such as the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents companies that manufacture light bulbs, are speaking out in favor of the 2007 standards and in opposition to the “Bulb Act” that would repeal them.

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