From: Steve Lawrence, Associated Press
Published April 24, 2007 12:00 AM

California Assembly Committee Calls for Phase-Out of Incandescent Lights

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A state Assembly committee voted Monday to phase out the incandescent light bulb, agreeing that one of Thomas Edison's most famous creations is outdated and inefficient.


The Utilities and Commerce Committee approved a bill by its chairman, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, that would prohibit sales of the standard incandescent bulb in California stores starting in 2012.


"It's hard to identify a technology that is more inefficient and backward than the incandescent bulb," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, an environmental group that supports the bill.


Levine said the bill would reduce pollution and the need for more power plants while continuing California's record of leading the nation in conserving energy.


Incandescent bulbs are 75 percent less efficient than other lights because almost all of their energy goes to generate heat, not light, he said.


Switching to compact fluorescent lights, while costing more money initially, would save consumers about $62 (euro45) per bulb because fluorescents use less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent lights, Levine said.


Despite the savings, many consumers continue to stick with the traditional incandescent light. Levine suggested that was because of outmoded notions about the quality and diversity of compact fluorescent lights.


"We have a market failure," he said.


Representatives of lighting companies said they would prefer that the state set tougher efficiency standards for light bulbs in general instead of banning the incandescent light.


"We assure you we can meet those standards," said Eric Newman, a lobbyist for General Electric, which has announced plans to produce a more efficient incandescent bulb.


Edison is generally credited with inventing the incandescent bulb, but the concept had been around for 50 years before he was able to perfect a practical bulb that produced light by running electricity across a small carbonized filament.


Governments elsewhere are considering measures similar to Levine's, including a bill in New Jersey that would require the switch to fluorescent lights in government buildings. Australia, Chile and the European Union also are seeking to phase out the use of incandescent bulbs.


Levine's bill would cover standard incandescent or halogen bulbs between 25 and 150 watts. It would exempt a long list of specialty lights, including three-way bulbs.


Monday's 7-2 committee vote split along party lines, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing it. The measure now goes to the Appropriations Committee, the last stop before the full Assembly.


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On the Net:


Read the bill, AB722, at http://www.assembly.ca.gov


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