in other words: EISA Lighting Standards
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In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law. It covers topics ranging from the smart grid to carbon capture and sequestration to saving energy in public buildings. But several groups focused on its lighting efficiency standards, framing them as an invasive ban on incandescent lamps.
Consequently, last June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to withhold funding from the Department of Energy to enforce phasing in of the EISA lighting standards in FY2013. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 95 percent of the U.S. lighting manufacturing industry, provided this response to the vote:
"The Burgess (R-TX) Amendment prohibits funding for enforcement of national energy efficiency standards for certain light bulbs. These standards, supported by U.S. lighting manufacturers in the bipartisan Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, save consumers money while preserving customer choice in lighting technologies.
The inability of the Department of Energy to enforce the standards would allow those who do not respect the rule of law to sell inefficient light bulbs in the U.S. without fear of enforcement, which threatens U.S. jobs and creates a competitive disadvantage for compliant manufacturers."
The amendment is an extension of the ban that held for 2012. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association pointed out in its 2011 press release:
"American manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in transitioning to energy efficient lighting as a result of the EISA 2007 provision. Delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty.
NEMA reiterates that EISA 2007 does not ban incandescent light bulbs. Consumers will have expanded lighting options that include energy-efficient advanced incandescent, compact fluorescent [sic] lights (CFLs), and new lighting technologies such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs)."
A closer look at EISA's lighting standards
EISA established energy efficiency standards for general incandescent lamps. The law based its standards on lumen output of a lamp and the maximum wattage allowed to power its range.
According to the law's timetable, only light bulbs that met or exceeded the standard could be manufactured or imported. From January 1, 2012, EISA standards called for the halt of production of traditional 100-watt incandescent bulbs. The phase-out of traditional 75-watt bulbs began on January 1, 2013 and production of traditional 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs will cease in 2014. Incandescent halogen lamps, CFLs and LED lamps can meet the EISA standards and are already on the market.
Unfortunately the public discourse has equated EISA with a ban on incandescent light bulbs. Framing the standards in this way misrepresents the actual situation: EISA is increasing the efficiency standards for traditional light bulbs whose design has remained essentially unchanged for 100 years. Similar to car mile per gallon fuel efficiency standards, EISA is calling for a more efficient standard for light bulbs. It does not ban one technology over another.
In fact, halogen lamps are a form of incandescent lamp and groups are developing an incandescent lamp that is two times more efficient than traditional incandescents. Halogen lamps are about 25 percent more efficient than standard incandescents while CFLs are four times more efficient. EISA also does not set standards for specialty lamps like three-way light bulbs. Since lighting can make up about 10 percent of a typical electric bill, perhaps a “good cents” lighting standard might be a more appropriate way to frame EISA.
Impact of non-enforcement
In the long run, prohibiting the enforcement of EISA probably will have little impact. The move away from incandescent lamps is not just a US trend. The EU began the phase-out in 2009. On October 1, 2012, China banned the import and sale of incandescent lamps over 100 watts leading to an eventual ban of those over 15 watts by October 1, 2016. Anticipating future demand, manufacturers have already invested great sums into manufacturing more energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs. A moratorium on enforcement will likely do little to dissuade manufacturers from following these market forces.
Impact on consumers
Alexandra Behringer, a representative from E Source explained to i.e. that plenty of non-compliant bulbs are expected to remain on store shelves well beyond the EISA deadlines because the deadlines only apply to the date of manufacture. Furthermore, fear of the ban has prompted consumers to hoard traditional incandescents, further delaying demand for higher efficiency replacements.
A study presented at last year’s ACEEE Summer Study found that in California, the supply of legacy 100 watt incandescent bulbs appeared to be quite high. Since California started implementing the phase-in of EISA standards in 2011, they had a year headstart over other states to assess the impact of the phase-in on 100-watt incandescent inventories. They also found that consumer awareness of the law was low and that we might expect a backlash as consumer consciousness rises, resulting in stockpiling of incandescent lamps. Since nearly 60 percent of the incandescent light market are 60- and 40-watt lamps, the impact of EISA will probably not be felt in full until 2015.
Only a few years ago, CFLs were considered the only economical replacement for incandescent lamps. Today, LED lamps are becoming much more economical and are being viewed as a good alternative as well. In fact, the Apple Store carries the Philips Hue Connected LED lighting system that lets you tune the whites and color of the light using a smart phone, enhancing the “cool” factor of LED lamps. Consumers soon will have several choices in purchasing energy efficient lighting.
The reality is that the time has come for more energy efficient lighting. The manufacturers want it. The commercial market wants it. Incandescent lamps will go the way of vinyl record albums, a specialty niche.