Is Bachmann Freedom Bulb an American Job Killer

The genesis of potential Presidentress Michele Bachmann (curious about the term Presidentress, see below) is H. R. 5616 the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.
As I chronicled in 2008,

Bachmann’s legislation is a response to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 which President Bush signed in December.

President Bush touted in a press release The Lighting Efficiency Mandate which will improve lighting efficiency by more than 70 percent by 2020 yet the Congresswoman feels this legislation was enacted in haste and in error.

That bill was properly debated and many consider that America was actually years behind in enacting this legislation.

The incandescent bulb is an energy hog. Just 5 percent of the electricity it uses goes to light the bulb; the other 95 percent is heat. Lowering demand for electricity from coal-fired power plants, which emit carbon dioxide, is the goal. CO2, most climate scientists say, is the single largest contributor to global warming.

In 2006, about 200 million compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs were sold in the U.S. One retailer, Wal-Mart, said it wants to sell 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) by 2008.

So voluntarily, many consumers are switching to CFL bulbs and manufacturers are increasing production.

In 2007, Australia said it would become the first country in the world to ban traditional, incandescent light bulbs. The European Union, representing 490 million citizens in 27 member states will be expected to switch to energy-efficient bulbs by 2009.

The new standards will not ban the incandescent bulbs that are familiar to consumers today; they will make the bulbs 25 to 30 percent more efficient. Switching to compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs will bring consumers even greater savings.

Yet, potential Presidentress Bachmann phrased the question in terms of the Freedom to Choose and it has become a standard part of her stump speech every since.

From 2008, when her legislation died with 24 co-sponsors, the latest BULB Act garnered the support of 233 Representatives … but in a procedural move, the Republican-managed House allowed the vote to require a 2/3rds majority … meaning that the bill would not be approved and thus it stays in the stump speech for 2012 election purposes.
These politicians think voters are stupid and won’t realize the games they play.

Some things that we may not know … light bulb manufacturing has been leaving America for years … and the CFL did not have anything to do with it.
In fact, General Electric was a major producer of light bulbs maintaining production and R&D facilities in the Neal Park area of Cleveland Ohio. During the first U.S. energy crisis in the mid-’70s GE assigned Ed Hammer to work on energy efficient bulbs. By 1975, Hammer had invented the CFL. Although executives at GE liked the idea, they decided not to market it at the time as CFLs would require entirely new manufacturing facilities, which would cost, at that time, $25 million.
With the CFL design proven, competitors became interested. The production of CFLs was streamlined by a Chinese immigrant to the US named Ellis Yan. In the 1990s, Mr. Yan took the jobs to China to take advantage of the supremely cheap labor. Yan’s Aurora Ohio company – Technical Consumer Products Inc (TCP) – was the first to mass-produce CFLs. Mr. Hammer, is a consultant for TCP, Inc., states TCP makes something like 1.5 million CFLs a day.”
In 2008, TCP introduced over 140 new ENERGY STAR qualified CFL’s and 25 new ENERGY STAR qualified LED Decorative Light Strings.

Because customers have expressed a desire for goods made in America, by Thanksgiving, TCP Inc. expects to have 22 to 25 employees producing CFL bulbs at a 100,000-square-foot warehouse it owns behind its headquarters on Campus Drive in the Cleveland Ohio area.

Why Now and Why in America ?

We’ve been preparing since then for this moment,” Mr. Yan, CEO of TCP said ever since the federal government passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

But it’s not just TCP in Aurora Ohio that production is occuring :
Osram Sylvania has retooled its current St. Marys, Pennsylvania incandescent factory to produce new energy saving incandescent bulbs that will meet the standards.

Sylvania manufactures Super Saver energy-efficient halogen lightbulbs in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Unlike compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), halogens do not contain mercury, but they meet the energy-saving criteria of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

GE recently invested $60 million to create a Global Center of Excellence for linear fluorescent lamp manufacturing in Bucyrus, Ohio—an action that will double the number of jobs at that plant.

Besides CFLs there are LED products.

Next year, for instance, Eye Lighting International of North America Inc. (a subsidiary of Iwasaki Electric Ltd. of Tokyo) could start assembling its first LED products at its Mentor Ohio headquarters, where it employs about 150, said president and chief operating officer Tom Salpietra.

Green Mill Global LLC of Akron also wants to make LED fixtures in Northeast Ohio. The company, which distributes fixtures made by Fawoo Technology, has received permission from the South Korean manufacturer to build a U.S. plant.

Others include Lighting Sciences Group Corp in Florida, and Philips Lighting (the world’s biggest lighting company) to produce the next generation of efficient LED light bulbs.

But the big job producer is Cree. President Obama toured their North Carolina facility in June. Cree, which already employs more than 1,700 people in Durham County, announced that the company said it would create an additional 250 jobs by 2013 to produce recently developed LED wafers … expanding in the US instead of China or Malaysia.

While initially, I was supportative due to the energy efficiencies, now it’s about the potential of JOBS …

WHY would Congress want to influence plans that Job Creators have in motion … just so that foreign manufacturers can sell their inefficient light bulbs here ?

In fairness though, the energy efficiences deserve some attention.
Researchers with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently calculated the potential savings, considering average statewide electricity prices, the typical energy savings from more efficient bulbs, and state-level data on household energy usage.

In Minnesota, the Projected Annual Electricity Savings from New Energy Efficient Light Bulb Standards are :

1.74 billion KWh Statewide Electricity Savings
691 kWh Per Household Electricity Savings
7% Savings as a Percentage of Household Electricity Use
$72 Per Household Bill Savings

Clearly, consumers, the economy and the environment will suffer if these standards are repealed,” said Jim Presswood, NRDC’s federal energy policy director. “It also will send the wrong signal to the lighting industry, which has already started making better bulbs.”
Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, which conducted the analysis for NRDC, said “The average U.S. household would save about 7 percent on their annual electric costs – or roughly one-twelfth. In other words, the savings from the lighting standards would be like getting a free month without a power bill, every single year.”

JOBS plus Consumer Savings equals Smart Policy
… so why are some members of Congress being so stupid
… my guess is because potential Presidentress Bachmann taunts them with politically motivated implications that the Big Brother Bureaucracy will “tells us which light bulbs to buy” … that resonates with a segment of voters.
Voters need to elect Smarter legislators.

Note : While George Washington was known as the “President”, the “First Lady” term was not applied to Martha Washington … she was known the “Lady Presidentress” … thus if Marcus Bachmann will be known as “First Dude” then it seems only appropriate that Ms. Bachmann would be known as “Presidentress”.

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