Category: Legislation + Regulation

NRDC Sues Over DOE’s Refusal to Update Light Bulb Energy-Saving Standards

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently asked a federal court to force the U.S. Department of Energy to implement updated energy-saving standards for general-service lamps.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently asked a federal court to force the U.S. Department of Energy to implement updated energy-saving standards for general-service lamps.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 contains a backstop provision that says if the DOE did not complete a new rulemaking for general-service lamps by 2017, or if the new rulemaking did not achieve a minimum energy standard of 45 lumens per watt, effective in January 2020, the DOE must prohibit the sale of all general-service lamps that are less efficacious, effectively eliminating halogen A-lamps from the market. The Department of Energy took the position that the backstop provisions were not automatically triggered.

The NRDC lawsuit challenges DOE’s “final determination” announced late last year not to go forward.

This is the NRDC’s second lawsuit against DOE in the past six months. In the earlier case, the groups opposed DOE’s reversal of a rule expanding the types of lamps required to become more energy efficient as of January 1, including three-way, candle-shaped, and globe-shaped lamps.

Joining NRDC in the lawsuits are Earthjustice (representing the Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America, and Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants); the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and Environment America. In addition, a group of states led by New York and California, plus the city of New York and the District of Columbia, filed similar lawsuits in the same court.

Comments Off on NRDC Sues Over DOE’s Refusal to Update Light Bulb Energy-Saving Standards

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Sums Up Lamp Rules

My contribution to the January issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR took a look at the Department of Energy’s recent action on general-service lamp energy standards and its interpretation of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’s backstop rule.

My contribution to the January issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR took a look at the Department of Energy’s recent action on general-service lamp energy standards and its interpretation of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’s backstop rule.

The column begins:

The Department of Energy recently issued two regulatory rules related to general-service lamps (incandescent/halogen, compact fluorescent and LED) and general-service incandescent lamps.

The first rule negated an Obama administration policy expanding the definition of general-service lamps to include incandescent reflector lamps and several previously exempt lamp types. The second concluded a new rulemaking process for general- service incandescent lamps that proposed no changes to the energy standards. In its rulemaking, the DOE indicated that the January 2020 backstop provision for a higher standard of 45 lumens per watt (W) for all general-service lamps would not be automatically triggered.

Check it out here.

Comments Off on ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Sums Up Lamp Rules

Guidance on 2019 Changes to Lighting Rules in California

California’s 2019 lighting standards and regulations went into effect January 1, 2020. The 2019 changes include updates to both the Appliance Efficiency Regulations and Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

California’s 2019 lighting standards and regulations went into effect January 1, 2020. The 2019 changes include updates to both the Appliance Efficiency Regulations and Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

The California Lighting Technology Center developed a series of resources to identify and explain the new changes:

For a deeper dive into lighting quality, read CLTC Director Michael Siminovitch’s white paper on California Leadership Ensures High-Quality LED Lamps are Available to Consumers.

1 Comment on Guidance on 2019 Changes to Lighting Rules in California

Lighting Associations Drop Lawsuit to Block New California Lamp Standards

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the American Lighting Association (ALA) yesterday ended their legal challenge to the California Energy Commission’s Nov. 13 decision to expand its lamp energy standards. NEMA’s announcement came after reviewing the decision of the federal district court in Sacramento denying the application for a temporary restraining order without prejudice to pursue a motion for a preliminary injunction.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the American Lighting Association (ALA) yesterday ended their legal challenge to the California Energy Commission’s Nov. 13 decision to expand its lamp energy standards. NEMA’s announcement came after reviewing the decision of the federal district court in Sacramento denying the application for a temporary restraining order without prejudice to pursue a motion for a preliminary injunction.

The associations were fighting California’s addition of such common household lamp types as the candle- and flame-shaped bulbs used in chandeliers and sconces, reflector lamps used in recessed cans and track lighting, globe-shaped lamps, and three-way lamps – the same models the U.S. Department of Energy recently eliminated from being covered by national lighting efficiency standards. LEDMyPlace.com has a nice summary here.

“The basis of the NEMA preemption complaint is that there can only be one definition of general service lamps under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and that is the definition enacted by Congress in 2007, which has been maintained by the regulations of the U.S. Department of Energy,” explained NEMA General Counsel Clark Silcox. “The court’s decision on the temporary restraining order implies, without deciding, that there might be two definitions: one for California only and one for the rest of the country. NEMA believes that this contradicts Congress’s clear statement that federal energy conservation regulation is a comprehensive national policy.”

Fifteen states and non-governmental organizations have challenged the DOE regulatory definition in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City, and that court expects a decision at the end of this year or early next year.

After NEMA and the ALA dropped their lawsuit, energy and environmental organizations saw it as a victory for energy efficiency.

“The lighting industry finally came to its senses and discontinued its desperate efforts to block California’s common-sense light bulb efficiency standards, which are poised to save consumers billions of dollars on their utility bills,” said Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “All bulbs sold in California must now be efficient ones, meaning that the world’s fifth-largest economy will only be illuminated by energy-saving models, furthering its competitiveness and environmental leadership.”

Under the new rules that recently took effect in the state, LED and CFL lamps under the definition of the covered lamp types can still be sold in California, but incandescent and halogen lamps, which do not meet the minimum efficiency level of 45 lumens per watt, will not. This is in addition to state standards that went into effect in 2018 for general-service lamps and small diameter reflector bulbs for track and recessed lighting.

Comments Off on Lighting Associations Drop Lawsuit to Block New California Lamp Standards

DOE Announces Final Determination on Incandescent Lamp Energy Standards

The Department of Energy has confirmed its September 5, 2019 determination that existing energy standards for general-service incandescent lamps do not need to be amended, citing these amendments are not economically justified.

The Department of Energy has confirmed its September 2019 determination that existing energy standards for general-service incandescent lamps do not need to be amended, citing further amendments are not economically justified.

To learn more, click here to see previous LightNOW coverage and here to see the DOE’s final determination.

Comments Off on DOE Announces Final Determination on Incandescent Lamp Energy Standards

Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction Extended to 2018-2020

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law HR1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (2020), which contained an extension to the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction (179D).

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law HR1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (2020), which contained an extension to the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction (179D).

Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 signed into law by President Bush, the CBTD (Section 179D of the tax code) provides an accelerated tax deduction of up to $1.80/sq.ft. as an incentive to install energy-efficient building systems, including interior lighting. The tax deduction expired and renewed several times over the years, most recently with the passage of legislation that retroactively extended the deduction to December 31, 2017.

HR1865 extends the deduction from January 1, 2018 (retroactively) until December 31, 2020.

Specifically, the Act reads:

SEC. 131. Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction
In general. Section 179D(h) is amended by striking “December 31, 2017” and inserting “December 31, 2020.”
Effective dates. The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply to property placed in service after December 31, 2017.

What this means: Lighting upgrade projects completed in 2018, 2019, and 2020 may qualify for the CBTD. Click here to learn more.

Comments Off on Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction Extended to 2018-2020

Lighting Industry Sues to Block California’s Jan. 1 Expanded Lamp Efficiency Standards; Court Refuses Restraining Order

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the American Lighting Association are suing California to block the state’s updated lamp efficiency standards from going into effect on January 1, 2020. Today, a federal court denied a temporary restraining order.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the American Lighting Association are suing California to block the state’s updated lamp efficiency standards from going into effect on January 1, 2020. Today, a federal court denied a temporary restraining order.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, seeks to reverse the California Energy Commission’s Nov. 13 decision to update its minimum efficiency standards for lamps, which added such common household types as the candle- and flame-shaped lamps used in chandeliers and sconces, reflector lamps used in recessed cans and track lighting, round globe lamps, and three-way lamps.

The lamp types covered under the commission’s expanded standards are the same ones that the U.S. Department of Energy previously eliminated from being covered by national lighting efficiency standards.  They fill an estimated 260 million lighting sockets in California. The new minimum efficacy level is 45 lumens/W.

The new standards are also in addition to state standards that went into effect in 2018 for general-service lamps used in table and floor lamps, and small diameter reflector bulbs for track and recessed lighting.

Comments Off on Lighting Industry Sues to Block California’s Jan. 1 Expanded Lamp Efficiency Standards; Court Refuses Restraining Order

Consumer Group Values Lost Energy Savings Due to DOE Rule-Making on General-Service Lamps

The Consumer Federation of America recently submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Energy on its Proposed Determination that finds that new lighting efficiency standards are not needed and that essentially rolls back efficiency levels of general-service incandescent lamps. According to CFA, DOE’s justification for its rulemaking is riddled with factual errors and based on flawed assumptions and methodology, and will cost consumers more than $80 billion in lost energy savings over 30 years.

The Consumer Federation of America recently submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Energy on its Proposed Determination that finds that new lighting efficiency standards are not needed and that essentially rolls back efficiency levels of general-service incandescent lamps. According to CFA, DOE’s justification for its rulemaking is riddled with factual errors and based on flawed assumptions and methodology, and will cost consumers more than $80 billion in lost energy savings over 30 years.

In a press statement, CFA said:

The DOE’s decision to roll back money saving lighting requirements is based on analyzing only one single technology that is extremely and unjustifiably high in cost ($7.00/bulb), low in efficiency (only 34.5 lumens/watt) and has a very short lifespan (1,000 hours). The best alternative available in the market is less than half the cost ($3.00/bulb), almost three times more efficient (88.9 lumens/watt) and lasts fifteen times as long (15,000 hours). Had the DOE used today’s technology to evaluate the effectiveness of the standard, there’s no way the agency could ever be justify not taking action.

The DOE’s faulty analysis assumes that over one-third of consumers would behave irrationally and purchase inferior lighting technology over today’s energy efficient lights. However, even if consumers opted for the older low-tech lighting options, and only 1 in 20 chose new technology, the benefit of staying with the standard would far outweigh the cost.

CFA concluded:

For the Department of Energy to fail to recognize the best and increasingly most prevalent technology when evaluating the merits of standards is simply gross negligence. If the DOE had analyzed the lighting technologies available today, rather than only older high cost, low efficiency, short-life options, it would have concluded that a reasonable, performance based standard would save consumer billions while addressing climate change at the same time.

CFA also analyzed the macroeconomic impact of DOE’s Proposed Determination. In the aggregate, taking a thirty-year time horizon, CFA’s analysis estimates the following costs would be imposed on consumers:

• It would cost consumers over $80 billion.
• The environmental/public health costs would be nearly $20 billion.
• Macroeconomic losses would be $73 billion.

Comments Off on Consumer Group Values Lost Energy Savings Due to DOE Rule-Making on General-Service Lamps

NRDC Sues DOE Over Lighting Standards Rollback

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently announced it has joined other environmental and consumer advocacy groups in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s rollback of energy-saving standards for general-service lamps currently in service in about half of the conventional sockets in the United States.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently announced it has joined other environmental and consumer advocacy groups in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s rollback of energy-saving standards for general-service lamps currently in service in about half of the conventional sockets in the United States.

“It’s outrageous that the Department of Energy turned its back on the law passed by a bipartisan Congress and supported by industry more than 12 years ago to ensure our lighting is as energy efficient as possible,” said Kit Kennedy, senior director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program. “It’s not only illegal to backtrack on energy efficiency standards, the United States will become the dumping ground for the inefficient incandescent and halogen models already banned in Europe and being phased out by countries around the world.”

The NRDC filed suit with Earthjustice (representing the Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America, and Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants); the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and Environment America in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In addition, a group of 15 states (New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington) plus the city of New York and the District of Columbia filed a separate lawsuit in the same court.

The lawsuit contends DOE acted illegally in reversing its two-year-old rules expanding the types of lamps covered by general-service lamp standards. At issue are a variety of lamp types, including four categories of common lamps: three-way, flame- or candle-shaped, globe-shaped versions commonly used in bathroom vanities, and reflector models installed in recessed cans and track lighting.

Separately, DOE also has announced it does not plan to update the standards for general-service lamps already subject to energy standards. NRDC filed opposing comments with DOE, but that action is not part of this lawsuit.

Comments Off on NRDC Sues DOE Over Lighting Standards Rollback

The President Criticizes Energy-Efficient Lighting

President Trump’s recent remarks about current energy-efficient lighting technology were inaccurate and outdated.

Last month, LightNOW reported that the Trump Administration negated an Obama-era rule that would expand the definition of general-service lamps to include incandescent reflector lamps and several previously exempted lamp types. In even bigger news, a second rulemaking resulting in no new energy standards for incandescent lamps, DOE indicated that the January 2020 backstop provision for a higher standard of 45 lumens/W for all general-service lamps would not automatically trigger, which would have eliminated a majority of halogen A-lamps.

On September 12, President Trump addressed a group of Republican lawmakers in Baltimore about major policy accomplishments, and included the following remarks about energy-efficient lamps:

The president said:

The lightbulb … People said: ‘what’s with the lightbulb?’ I said: ‘here’s the story.’ And I looked at it. The bulb that we’re being forced to use! No. 1, to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you! The light is the worst…

He added that energy-efficient lamps are “many times more expensive” than incandescent lamps, and complained about the process of disposal if the lamp breaks.

What are we doing? It’s considered hazardous waste, but it’s many times more expensive and frankly the light is not as good. So we’re going to sell them, but we’re also going to sell incandescent bulbs. People are very happy about it. It’s amazing.

Fact-checking website Politifact took Trump’s remarks to task here, while FactCheck.org did so here.

For those in the lighting industry, the president’s remarks are obviously misleading, repeating political talking points that should have died long ago. While compact fluorescent lamps are limited in lighting quality and contain mercury, LED lamps have far surpassed CFLs in capabilities while dramatically dropping in price (to around $3 compared to $1 for an incandescent), and they contain no mercury.

According to NEMA, CFL sales accounted for less than 5% of the A-lamp market in the first quarter of 2019, and LED lamps dominated the market at 71%, an obvious indicator of their popularity. Triggering the backstop provision would have targeted the remaining 25% to generate significant additional consumer energy savings and reduce carbon emissions, a fact energy and environmental groups has pointed out. NEMA has argued that the market has shifted to LED on its own and will continue to do so, making new regulation unnecessary.

Unfortunately, energy efficiency, which should be a bipartisan goal and often has been, has become politicized, making the job of educating the public about lighting even harder.

3 Comments on The President Criticizes Energy-Efficient Lighting

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search