Congress Seeks Costly Light Bulb Mandates

Congress Seeks Costly Light Bulb Mandates

Energy Scheme Spells Big Costs, Few Benefits for Consumers
September 12, 2007

Contact: Christine Hall, 202.331.2258

Washington, D.C., September 12, 2007— Congress today is debating plans for forcing costly "energy efficient" lighting standards on American consumers. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearings today focus on a plan crafted by committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

Sam Kazman, General Counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, criticized the costly scheme.

"Proponents of the federal mandate claim energy-efficient light bulbs will be a money-saver," said Kazman. "But if these new bulbs are going to save consumers money, why do we need laws mandating their use?"

"The Bingaman plan is yet another example of global warming alarmism being used to justify regulating the most minute aspects of our lives," said Kazman.

Evidence suggests that new mandates will impose big new costs on consumers. The so-called energy-efficient bulbs cost $3-to-$6 per-bulb, compared to the current 25-cent incandescent bulbs. And even the claim that higher efficiency bulbs will greatly reduce use of electricity is itself dubious.

In 1987, the small town of Traer, Iowa, launched the Great Light Bulb Exchange, distributing 18,000 high efficiency bulbs to the small town’s residents. Despite the fact that over half of the town’s households participated, electricity consumption actually rose by eight percent. Once people realized they could keep their lights on at lower cost, they kept them on longer.

The proposed light bulb efficiency mandate may turn out to be as ill-fated as the federal efficiency standards for washing machines, which have been a total disaster. This past June, Consumer Reports found that the standards had drastically reduced the cleaning ability of top-loaders. In protest, CEI launched its "Send Your Underwear to the Undersecretary" campaign.

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