Energy & Environment

Biden administration proposes lightbulb efficiency rule, reversing Trump

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The Biden administration late Friday proposed a rule that would impose a lightbulb efficiency standard after the Trump administration declined to do so. 

If implemented, the Energy Department proposal would establish a “backstop” barring the sale of lightbulbs that don’t meet a minimum efficiency requirement.

The move is expected to shift the market toward more-efficient LED light bulbs and away from incandescent bulbs.

The Biden administration argued that the move would both benefit consumers and provide climate benefits. 

Proponents of such changes have argued that lower energy consumption will cut emissions from lighting uses and that consumers will save money on their electricity bills because they’ll be using less energy to light their homes. 

In fact, energy efficiency advocates have found that every month, delaying the lightbulb standards could cost consumers $300 million in lost savings and 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

The Biden administration cites a requirement in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to finalize a rule considering a 45 lumens per watt standard. If it doesn’t do so, the law directs the department to “prohibit the sale of any general service lamp that does not meet” such a standard.

In 2019, the Trump administration declined to set the standard. It said that this backstop had not been triggered because it made a “predicate determination” not to change standards for a subset of bulbs that includes LED bulbs. 

It also said at the time that adding the standard would stick consumers with more expensive light bulbs. 

The Biden administration is also working to undo a separate Trump-era lightbulb rollback, which excluded certain types of bulbs from the efficiency standards. The Biden administration issued a proposed rule in August seeking to include them. 

Tags energy efficiency LED lightbulb

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