Tighter Lightbulb Standards Coming From Energy Dept. 

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

100-watt light bulbs in Downers Grove, Illinois. Close

100-watt light bulbs in Downers Grove, Illinois.

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Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

100-watt light bulbs in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Bloomberg BNA — The Energy Department plans to strengthen its energy-efficiency standards for certain types of light bulbs by up to 12.9 percent over current levels.

The proposed standards, announced in a notice published on its website April 11, could cost companies and consumers $100 million or more to develop and purchase higher-efficiency bulbs. But the department expects the energy savings, emissions reductions and other benefits of the standards to outweigh those costs.

The proposal affects general service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs), which includes fluorescent tube lamps that are commonly found in office buildings, and incandescent reflector lamps (IRLs), commonly used in recessed and track lighting. Light bulb makers that could be impacted by the proposal include GE Lighting, Osram Sylvania Inc. and Philips Lighting Co.

The Energy Department has the authority to set energy-efficiency standards for general service fluorescent lamps, incandescent reflector lamps and other types of commercial and industrial equipment and consumer products under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, as amended.

Anthony Fryer, a senior analyst at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), said in a blog post that the proposed standards “represent another very good step for improving lighting energy efficiency” and meeting the president's goal of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

The proposal for the two types of lighting could cut carbon -dioxide emissions by 170 million metric tons, according to the Energy Department.

Builds on 2009 Standards

The proposed standards build on a previous rule making completed in 2009.

The proposal adds a “slight increase” in lighting efficiency onto the more dramatic efficiency improvements from 2009, which were estimated to save more than any other standard ever issued by the Energy Department, Andrew deLaski, ASAP's executive director, told Bloomberg BNA. Together, the two sets of standards would improve reflector lamp efficiency by 70 percent and improve fluorescent tube lamp efficiency by 23 percent, according to ASAP.

“Unfortunately, a congressional budget rider prevents DOE from saving even more,” Fryer said. A rider included in the last few budget cycles has made the least efficient types of reflector lamps exempt from the department's efficiency standards.

The Office of Management and Budget completed review of the proposal on April 9. After it is published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open for 60 days of public comment under Docket No. EE-2011-BT-STD-0006.

The Energy Department is expected to issue in November a final rule for the new standards, which would then go into effect in 2017.

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