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Author Topic: CFL light bulbs and the Big Corporations that Push Them  (Read 13447 times)

Offline Anders Hoveland

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CFL light bulbs and the Big Corporations that Push Them
« on: September 15, 2013, 03:35:05 pm »
The USA government has already made law that is diabolically designed to be gradually phased into effect years after it was already passed. It was a little efficiency provision burried deep within the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which few politicians seemed to notice.

 Big business interests have manipulated the environmentalists into supporting their scheme. Now, regular incandescent light bulbs are already becoming illegal in countries throughout the world: the USA, Canada, Australia, the European Union, the UK, Chile, and likely soon to be Mexico and China now.

 By banning regular incandescent bulbs, the light bulb companies are forcing everyone to buy their more expensive alternatives.

 The legislation was actually drafted by the big corporate lighting manufactures themselves, no doubt to increase profits under the guise of "environmental efficiency". They lobbied governments around the world to ban the regular light bulb.

? In 2007, Phillips Holding USA Inc. Spent At Least $418,446 Lobbying The Department Of Energy On H.R. 6.
 (Senate Office Of Public Records, Lobbying Disclosure Form, 8/01/07; Senate Office Of Public Records, Lobbying Disclosure Form, 2/14/08 )
? Philips Spent An Additional $160,000 Lobbying Congress On H.R. 6 Through Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.
 (Senate Office Of Public Records, Lobbying Disclosure Form, 8/8/07)
? In 2007, General Electric spent more money lobbying Congress than it paid in taxes that year

The use of efficiency mandates to snuff out the standard light bulb was an exercise of unadulterated crony capitalism. It came about after big bulb manufacturers, frustrated by their customers? refusal to switch from cheap throwaway incandescents to the far more profitable compact fluorescents touted by greens, decided to play hardball.

?So some years ago,?? The New York Times Magazine noted, ?Philips [Electronics] formed a coalition with environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, to push for higher standards. ?We felt that we needed to . . . show that the best-known lighting technology, the incandescent light bulb, is at the end of its lifetime,? says Harry Verhaar, the company?s head of strategic sustainability initiatives.??

Other corporations joined the plot, lobbying Congress to croak a product Americans overwhelmingly like and compel them to buy the more expensive substitute the industry was eager to sell them. The entire scheme, a lobbyist for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association testified candidly in 2007, was ?at the industry?s initiative.?? Unable to convince consumers to voluntarily abandon Edison?s light bulb, Big Business got the government to force the issue.

The Unholy Alliance between Philips and the Greens

 An unholy alliance (discovered by Elsevier journalist Syp Wynia) between a large multinational company and a multinational environmental organization succeeded in their lobby to phase out, and ultimately by 2012 forbid, the sale of incandescent bulbs ? not only in the Netherlands but in the whole of the European Union. The multinational company wanted to develop a new market for products with a high profit margin, and the environmental multinational wanted to impress the citizens of Europe with the imminent catastrophe caused by anthropogenic climate change. That would also be of benefit to its battered public image.

 Philips started lobbying to phase out the very product on which its original success is based. They started this campaign ten years ago. Their line of thought is clear: banning incandescent bulbs creates an interesting market for new kinds of home lighting, such as ?energy savers? (CFL?s, compact fluorescent lamps) and LED?s (light emitting diodes). The mark-up on these new products is substantially higher than that on old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. (A 70-Watt equivalent LED bulb, for example, costs 55 dollars each, while a 60-Watt equivalent costs 25 dollars. Of course, many other companies are selling cheaper LED products, claiming a "60 Watt equivalents", when in reality their bulbs put out much less light.)

 Energy savers (CFL?s) were introduced on the market in 1980, but they never succeeded in gaining wide acceptance from consumers. Despite their reduced power consumption, most consumers found their light too "harsh" and unnatural to light their homes. On top of that they were slow starters, annoyingly taking a few seconds just to come on while flickering, and then taking several minutes to reach full brightness.

 Multiple government campaigns, aimed at promoting the idea that energy savers contribute to the well-intentioned goal of reducing the energy consumption of households, failed to convince citizens.

 The spectre of catastrophic climate change offered a new opportunity for the strategists and marketing specialists at Philips headquarters. They changed their marketing concept and jumped on the Global Warming band wagon. From that moment on, energy-saving bulbs could be put on the market as icons of responsibility toward climate change. This would give Philips a head start in the CFL end LED business. The competition would be left far behind by aggressive use of European patent law.

 In 2006, Dutch legislators caved in under the combined lobbying pressure by Philips and Greenpeace. A parliamentary majority in The Hague embraced the idea of banning incandescent bulbs and ordered the Dutch Environment Minister, Jacqueline Cramer, to lobby for an extension of the ban to all states in the European Union.

 As I am sure many of you are well aware, the state of California is in a hopeless fiscal death spiral. Most blame fat pensions for state workers, runaway entitlements, and massive influx into the state my illegal Mexican migrants, but wait there's more!
 According to the Wall Street Journal, California is also burning money they don't have on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs:

"No state has done more to promote compact fluorescent lamps than California. On Jan. 1, the state began phasing out sales of incandescent bulbs, one year ahead of the rest of the nation. A federal law that takes effect in January 2012 requires a 28% improvement in lighting efficiency for conventional bulbs in standard wattages. Compact fluorescent lamps are the logical substitute for traditional incandescent light bulbs, which won't be available in stores after 2014."

 Despite the fact they are swimming in red ink, left wing legislators in Sacramento still managed to find money to subsidize the forced adoption of these ugly light bulbs. The California Public Utilities Commission has handed hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds over to the electric company to drive down the real cost of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs:

"...the commission last month gave the utilities $68 million of rewards, on top of $143.7 million of incentive pay previously awarded. PG&E pocketed $104 million total."

Guess who benefits from the government's force feeding of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs?

"California utilities have used ratepayer funds to subsidize sales of more than 100 million of the bulbs since 2006, most of them made in China. It is part of a comprehensive state effort to use energy-efficiency techniques as a substitute for power production. Subsidized bulbs cost an average of $1.30 in California versus $4 for bulbs not carrying utility subsidies."

 So there you have it, hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money wasted to force us to use a product we hate.

 Those CFL bulbs may actually be more expensive than you think. In many places the utility companies are subsidizing them, having gotten permission from state regulators to raise electric rates to fund their subsidy program. So if you see a spiral bulb in the store for $1, it may actually cost $4. You are still paying for it through higher electric rates from your utility company, you just don't realize it. It costs them another $0.50 for each bulb for the recycling program, since CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and are supposed to be properly recycled and processed to prevent that mercury from ending up in a landfill.