NRDC: GOP drive to repeal lightbulb efficiency law overlooks $12.5B in potential savings

Congress could vote on a repeal of energy-efficiency standards for incandescent lightbulbs, slated to take effect in 2012, as early as next week.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has gone on the offense with a campaign suggesting that a Congressional bid to ditch lighting efficiency standards could cheat consumers out of $12.5 billion in savings.

The organization has released state-by-state data showing the potential savings statewide and by consumer if the laws take effect in January 2012, as planned. The laws were originally adopted in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act. They call for the phaseout of inefficient light bulbs in favor of products that meet certain minimum efficiency standards (between 25 percent and 30 percent more efficient). Consumers will be able to buy improved incandescent bulbs but the biggest savings -- over time -- will come from compact florescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. These bulbs cost more to buy upfront, but they last much longer while using less electricity.

The savings data was collected for NRDC by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Certain states, including California, New York and Texas, could save more than $1 billion collectively in electricity costs when the laws take effect, according to the NRDC data. Consumers in a number of states could save more than $100 per household annually when the laws take effect. Those states are: Alaska ($131), California ($124), Connecticut ($139), Delaware ($101), Hawaii ($225), Maine ($105), Maryland ($107), Massachusetts ($109), New Hampshire ($117), New Jersey ($125), New York ($138), Rhode Island ($113), and Vermont ($105).

Collectively, the researchers say that the savings from the new bulb standards would eliminate the need for 30 new power plants.

Said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project:

"The average U.S. household would save about 7 percent on their annual electricity costs, or roughly one-twelfth. In other words, the savings from the lighting standards would be like getting a free month without a power bill, every single year."

A move to repeal the efficiency rules has become a cause celebre with a number of high-profile Republicans, who want the government to have less say in such matters. Lawmakers have also said the rules have resulted in lost American jobs, which is something no one really wants to hear right now.

The latest bid to repeal the law came in the form of a motion this week from Representative Joe Barton (R.-Texas). The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R.-Mich.) will push to have the bill brought to the floor possibly as early as next week, according to a published report from "The Hill," a Washington, D.C., news service. That's important because Upton supported the original law.

In a statement given to "The Hill," Upton said:

"It was never my goal for Washington to decide what type of light bulbs Americans should use. The public response on this issue is a clear signal that markets -- not governments -- should be driving technological advancements. I will join my colleagues to vote yes on a bill to protect consumer choice and guard against federal overreach."

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