Obama touts energy-efficient light bulbs

President Obama said Monday that advanced lighting technology is an essential component of his administration’s push to make commercial buildings more energy efficient.

LED lighting is “going to make a huge difference, not just for businesses who use the technology, but also for a country that needs to figure out how do we operate in a more energy-efficient way,” Obama said during a meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at Cree, Inc., a manufacturer of LED lighting in Durham, N.C.

Obama’s remarks come as Republicans have proposed legislation to repeal a provision in a 2007 energy law that requires traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient beginning in 2012.

Republicans have cast the law as a “light bulb ban,” arguing that it will disadvantage incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

LEDs and CFLs are much more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. 

Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness held its second meeting Monday at Cree, Inc. The council, led by GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt, touted the administration’s energy efficiency proposals as a job-creation measure.

Earlier this year, Obama outlined a plan, known as the Better Buildings Initiative, to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

He told workers at Cree, Inc., Monday that his jobs council is working with former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonFormer WH press secretaries: End live daily press briefings Jared Kushner hires Abbe Lowell for legal team Overnight Energy: Trump White House kicks off 'Energy Week' MORE to implement his commercial building efficiency plan.

“[R]ight now, the big impediment is a lot of companies know they would save money if they had more energy efficiency, but they may not have the initial capital to do it,” Obama said. “In some cases, building owners, they’re thinking to themselves, well, if I put in all this new lighting am I going to be able to recover it with -- through the rents or the leases that I’m able to obtain?  And so what we’ve got here are premier experts who are going to be able to help us design this program to really get this to take off.”

Obama’s comments came on the same day that the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Green Business Council and the Real Estate Roundtable released a report arguing that the administration’s Better Building Initiative could result in 114,000 new jobs.