Bill to repeal light bulb efficiency standards fails

Hawaii Independent Staff

HONOLULU—A bill to repeal the law that increases the nation’s light bulb efficiency standards was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives this week after failing to receive the necessary two-thirds vote in favor on Tuesday. House Republicans have threatened to re-introduce the measure through an appropriations bill this session.

Hawaii’s U.S. Representatives Mazie Hirono (D) and Colleen Hanabusa (D) voted against the measure.

“Reps. Hirono and Hanabusa understand the need to reduce the burden of high energy bills for Hawaii residents,” said Blue Planet Foundation executive director Jeff Mikulina.

The standards, which call for light bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient beginning January 1, 2012, were set as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 signed by President George W. Bush. The second phase of the act could increase bulb efficiency to 60 percent by 2020.

Opponents to these efficiency standards believe the law is effectively a ban on incandescent bulbs and an act of government overreach. The law sets standards on lighting technology, similar to existing standards for automobiles, refrigerators, air conditioners, and countless other devices.

The new efficiency standards could save Hawaii households nearly $150 a year by 2015. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates national consumer savings of $6 billion a year. The Natural Resources Defense Council calculated that consumers could save $12.5 billion by 2020.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting consumes 19 percent of electricity used in the commercial and residential sectors.

“Energy efficiency is a critical component to achieving Hawaii’s clean energy goals,” says Mikulina.

Blue Planet Foundation has exchanged nearly 200,000 incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient alternatives over the past two years, saving Hawaii residents about $25 million over the life of the bulbs in reduced energy use and preventing the consumption of more than 161,000 barrels of oil.