- California can begin implementing energy efficiency rules for light bulbs after a federal judge rejected a petition on Tuesday from industry groups to block the rules from taking effect.
- The rules, which were adopted by the California Energy Commission in November, effectively ban sales of incandescent and halogen light bulbs in favor of more efficient LED ones. The state now requires that new bulbs sold emit at least 45 lumens of light for each watt of electricity burned.
- The federal Department of Energy set similar standards under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but the Trump administration has reversed those requirements.
California’s efficiency rules came in direct response to the Trump administration’s rollback, and put the state in line with the original Obama-era standards.
California is one of 15 states, along with the District of Columbia and New York City, that sued the Trump administration in November over the rollback. According to that suit, the rollback could cost $12 billion a year in lost energy savings by 2025; the administration, meanwhile, has argued that the original standards forced consumers into higher-cost LED bulbs.
Two industry groups — the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the American Lighting Association — sought to block California’s new rules, saying the state must follow the federal government. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller of Sacramento rejected the challenge, saying California was allowed to set its own efficiency standards.
That now puts California on the forefront of light bulb efficiency. Steven Nadel, executive director of American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), told Smart Cities Dive that will force manufacturers to keep moving towards LED bulbs, despite the White House’s attempts.
"In general, the movement towards LEDs has been phenomenal, and the action by California will only accelerate it," Nadel said. "It clearly signals that they have to move in this direction, now it’s just a question of how quickly. Obviously, in California, they have to move quickly."
As cities and states work to enact energy efficiency legislation to combat climate change, light bulbs have emerged as a key step, with even utilities helping consumers buy better bulbs. Cities across the country have swapped out streetlight bulbs for more efficient LED versions (some with advanced wireless networks that can give cities more control), and building codes have stepped up efficiency rules that can be met, in part, with LED lights.
Rules like California’s, which will affect consumers and businesses alike, can help create a larger market for more efficient lights, especially with other states signaling they could enact similar requirements.