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Congress Delays Incandescent Light Bulb Ban

Chicago Tribune

The traditional incandescent light bulb won a nine-month reprieve late Thursday from new federal rules that would have led to its demise.

The deal to avert a government shutdown starting Friday night includes a provision that prevents the Department of Energy from spending any money to implement or enforce the energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that is set to start going into effect for 100-watt bulbs in 2012.

The new standards and regulations remain on the book, even if they now won't be enforced.

The efficiency rules are intended to phase out of the old bulbs that are essentially unchanged since the time of Thomas Edison and a phase in of the more efficient bulbs such as halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED bulbs.

Those more efficient bulbs have a more expensive initial cost, about $1.50 to $2 a bulb compared to 25 or 50 cents for a less efficient light. But their advocates say lower energy usage and in some cases longer life from the new bulbs will more than make up for the higher purchase price over the life of the bulb.

A Department of Energy spokesman said the agency is studying the congressional action and had no comment on it at this time.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the trade group whose members produce more than 95 percent of the light bulbs sold in the United States, supported the new energy efficient standards. It said its members have invested millions since Congress approved the standards in 2007, preparing to comply with the new rules, which remain in effect even if they will not be enforced.

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