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Department of Energy Begins Incandescent Bulb Crackdown

Department of Energy Begins Incandescent Bulb Crackdown

After years of political battles and months of warnings, the Department of Energy has decided the time has come to fine manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling incandescent bulbs that do not meet the minimum efficacy standard of 45 lumens per watt. Most incandescent bulbs will not meet that standard.

Back in 2007, Congress passed the energy efficiency standard, but it was never really enforced, even during the LED lighting boom. But, on April 26th of this year, the Department of Energy released a new statement, explaining that it will begin its enforcement of General Service Lamp standards. The fines could become significant, stating, “Any person who knowingly violates any provision of may be subject to assessment of a civil penalty of no more than $542 for each violation. As to § 429.102(a)(1) with respect to failure to certify, and as to § 429.102(a)(2), (5) through (9), each unit of a covered product or covered equipment distributed in violation of such paragraph shall constitute a separate violation. For violations of § 429.102(a)(1), (3), and (4), each day of noncompliance shall constitute a separate violation for each basic model at issue.” The Department of Energy added, “Generally, the Department seeks the maximum civil penalty against manufacturers and private labelers that knowingly distribute in commerce products or equipment that violate the federal energy or water conservation standards. DOE believes the maximum penalty is both appropriate and necessary, as such violations directly undermine the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) regulatory regime and prevent consumers from realizing the energy and cost savings intended by the energy conservation standards program.”

Some lighting experts claim enforcing the standards will bring an end to the incandescent bulb. Critics of the 2007 energy efficiency standard say it damages a competitive lighting market by providing unfair advantages to energy-efficient products. The DOE says Americans will save $3 billion and cut carbon emissions by 222 metric tons every year just by switching to energy-efficient lighting.

“DOE developed this enforcement policy to promote fairness in light of the agency’s delays in promulgating the definitions and backstop rules,” the April 26th DOE statement said. “DOE reviewed industry comments on the manufacturing, shipping, and sell-through times needed for transition to compliance with the definitions and backstop rules. DOE then conducted its own analysis of industry’s lead time needs. DOE also reviewed comments from other stakeholders promoting immediate enforcement or enforcement within a limited timeframe to expedite consumer cost-savings and carbon emissions reductions.”

The DOE announced it will take a layered approach to the enforcement, as it “intends to begin enforcement with manufacturers, including importers, and private labelers.” In addition to that, “DOE intends to pursue violations by distributors and retailers using the same enforcement transition stages along with its discretion. However, the timeline for these entities is more gradual to allow first for the transition of existing inventory, while manufacturers, including importers, transition their production and shipments in 2022.”

The April 26th statement did include the warning that it would begin the enforcement in July of 2023.

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