Business, Finance & Economics

Incandescent light bulb saved by House spending bill .. for time being


New use for an old favorite? Indian artist Vijay Kumar B Pawar shows artwork inside light bulbs in Bangalore on April 16, 2010.


Dibyangshu Sarkar

The incandescent light bulb has won a reprieve.

A spending bill needed to avoid a federal government shutdown passed Friday night includes a provision that prevents the Department of Energy from enforcing new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs for much of 2012.

(GlobalPost reports: House passes $915 billion spending bill)

Tea Party activists and their Republican allies had campaigned against the energy efficiency requirement, targeting the old 100-watt incandescent light bulb — essentially unchanged since the time of Thomas Edison, according to CNN — as an example of regulatory excess.

The federal standards limited the "freedom of average Americans" to buy whatever type of bulb they wanted, Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, told Bloomberg in an interview.

The House passed the bill 296-121.

“This is an early Christmas present for all Americans,'' said another Texas Republican, Joe Barton, of the bill. "It restores the freedom, at least temporarily, for you to choose the light bulbs you want to illuminate your home.''

However, the LA Times pointed out, the prohibition applied only for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and  California has already implemented the new standards.

However, "I can’t believe it," the paper quoted Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a supporter of the new rules, as saying.

She said the Republicans who pushed to block enforcement of the rules have "become deniers ... deniers of the fact that the climate is warming.''

And The New York Times wrote of the incandescent bulb's "dim future":

The standards, which will still go into effect Jan. 1, affect only the 100-watt bulb in 2012, but will effectively phase out standard 40-, 60- and 75-watt incandescents by 2014. Under the law, merchants will be allowed to sell their remaining inventory but cannot replenish it.

More efficient bulbs such as halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED bulbs, will be phased in.

CNN wrote that while these bulbs had a more expensive initial cost (up to $2 a bulb compared with 25 or 50 cents for incandescent light bulbs), advocates said lower energy usage and longer life from the bulbs more than made up for the higher purchase price over the life of the bulb.