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CFL Mud Wrasslin

Energy Efficiency, Government, Investments, Tax Stuff0 comments

As you must know, last week congress failed to pass a repeal of the incandescent light bulb with their “Better Use of Light Bulbs” (BULB) act.  There you go right there – God awful marketing.  Who comes up with this junk?  Why does every bill have to be called an “act”?  It’s like every scandal has “gate” attached to it.  Do the Millennials even know where gate comes from?  Climategate.  Memogate.  Blagogate.  Filegate.  Macacagate.  Monicagate.  Nannygate (2 each).  Travelgate.  Troopergate.  Guess who has the most gates.  I don’t know but I’ll bet Bill and Hillary have to be in the best and finals round.  “I am not a crook”.

I was tipped off to a Wisconsin Public Radio joust between a liberal from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC – Left) and a conservative from the “Center for Energy and the Environment” a wing of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI – Right).  I like the masquerading name of CEE, which is also the name of a non-profit, not to be confused with non-competitive, from Minnesota.  The radio show was entertaining to behold and I thought I would share some of the arguments of both sides.

Left – This is not a ban on incandescent light bulbs.  In the words of Dr. Evil, Riiiight. C’mon.  That is exactly like saying beer shall be limited to 3.2% alcohol and it must also weigh in at less than 90 calories per 12 oz serving.  No ban on beer here!

Right – Big business is teaming with the environmentalists to lobby congress for this – to make gobs of money. LOL!  Light bulbs aren’t made in the US, nor are they made by US companies.  Philips – Dutch.  Sylvania – German.  The CFL market is dominated by TCP, a Chinese company.  If you look hard you’ll find GE CFLs, made in China.  But the CFL isn’t why Imelt spends all his time in Washington.  He’s after bigger fish.

Left – This regulation is good for consumers.  Sorry but this is another knee slapper.  Let’s ban pizza.  Clearly that would be a victory for consumers – salt, fat, and enough preservatives to keep your dog around, odor free, for months after he passes on.

Right – Expensive halogen incandescent lights will soar in price once the incandescent ban goes into effect.  I doubt it.  This is like the merger of Sirius and XM satellite radio.  There will still be plenty of competition for light bulbs.   Competition has already made CFLs practically free to purchase.  Good luck against that.

Left – People don’t have time to determine life cycle cost and what is the best deal for them – therefore, take away the “bad” choice.  This clearly smacks that you are too stupid to live on your own – aka, the nanny state.

Right – CFL light quality is horrible. This is a bogus argument.  The only drawback indoors to CFLs is they take a minute to come up to brightness.  Otherwise you can’t tell the difference using a warm white CFL against an incandescent bulb.

Left – Halogen technology has been around for a long time but it has been too expensive for the market.  This mandate will drive down their cost.  Probably.

Right – People really hate CFLs.   Sure.  That’s why my mother has a house full of them (even the hideous cool white ones) and my brothers use them exclusively on the farm because they last a loooong time, and happen to save energy.

Left – He can’t imagine a better policy that actually results in more choices.  This may have been the stupidest argument of the interview.  Let’s ban cable TV and see if we get more choices for TV.  Good grief.

Right – Energy use will increase because the money that people used to send to the utility will now be used to buy more stuff (made in China from coal-fired power – my comment).  There is some truth to this I believe.  I discussed this in upside down consequence of EE last fall.

Left – A caller fears corporations more than government.  Criminally corrupt and crappy corporations eventually go out of business.  I wish I could say the same about corrupt crappy government.

Right – Why do we need to ban a harmless incandescent light bulb?  We didn’t ban horses and buggies or typewriters. There is some truth to that.  I had an electronic typewriter with memory and a tiny little LCD screen when I was a freshman in college.  Anybody need a cool toy for a toddler?

Right – People may resort to candles.  Candles are dangerous.  They start fires.  Ok.  This was the stupidest argument of the interview.

Right – A caller from Oshkosh tells us, he will show them.  He has stocked a lifetime supply of incandescent light bulbs for himself.  Congratulations.  Stay off that guy’s lawn or prepare for the consequences.  I wonder if he was smart enough to accurately estimate how many he needs??

Right – We already suffered through the low-volume toilets.  Good grief.  I’ve seen low volume toilets that outperform 5 gpf models.  Have you experienced the old lazy toilets, like in an old hotel where the water goes around and around and around for about 15 minutes, ending with a wimpy flush?  They don’t very well handle things with a specific gravity less than 1.0, if you know what that means.

Left – Extra cost for CFL is paid off in seven months at 10 cents per kWh.  This is not an unreasonable estimate.  Per the estimated hours of use to achieve this, hardly any of the lamps useful life is used up.

Right – But it will take a lot longer to return investment where energy markets are freer and cheaper.  Weak.

Right – This is a broad overreach of the nanny state.  See, this is my problem with this.  It’s a total waste of time and political capital and meanwhile, Rome burns.

Speaking of the nanny state, how about focusing on setting the current corrupt and incomprehensible heinous tax code ablaze?  Corrupt?  Exhibit A: General Electric – $5 billion in ONSHORE profits, $0.00 US income taxes last year.  CEO Imelt has overseen the company’s fall from $55 when he took over in 2001 to about $19 today.  Congratulations.  Why he isn’t among the unemployed is beyond me.  Moreover, Art Laffer, a very in-tune economist and his colleagues estimate America spends a staggering $430 billion on tax code compliance.  To put this in perspective we consume – consume, not import – roughly $730 billion in oil per year.  And people whine about high gas prices!

Perhaps the only thing more insane is borrowing 40 cents on the dollar spent by the feds.  How about putting full resources and muscle of the CEI behind this atrocity?  Who cares about light bulbs?

In the end the CEI guy had no leg to stand on.  However, the NRDC guy should have pointed out that if they skipped the ban, the guy in Oshkosh would have eventually seen the light (pun intended) and started to use CFLs.  Like the horse and buggy days, I think incandescent bulbs would have gone away by market forces, maybe in a few years??  We will never know.

written by Jeffrey L. Ihnen, P.E., LEED AP

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