Deep inside the 786-page bill passed on Aug. 4 by the House of Representatives, H.R. 3221, “New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act,” are several provisions that could radically affect some common lighting products manufactured and sold in the electrical wholesaling industry.
If the bill’s provisions are kept intact when the House and Senate reconcile their energy bills in a Joint Conference Committee after the summer break on Capitol Hill, many types of incandescent lamps will have to become much more efficient to survive. The bill also calls for tough new energy standards for other lamp types, including fluorescent lamps and incandescent reflector lamps. Another bill passed on Aug. 4, H.R. 2776 “The Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007,” offers tax provisions for energy-efficient building design and the use of renewable power systems, including photovoltaic (solar) and wind turbines.
H.R. 3221 passed in a House vote of 241-172. In that bill is a provision that 100W general-service incandescent lamps that do not emit at least 60 lumens per watt would be banned by Jan. 1, 2012. The least efficient of these lamps currently provide up to 18 lumens per watt.
Lobbyists from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) were frequent travelers on the Washington Metro subway system from their offices in Rosslyn, Va., to Capitol Hill, as they testified before House and Senate committees and worked with legislators on the technical language of the bill specific to lighting products. In addition, Stuart Thorn, president and CEO, Southwire Co., Carrolton, Ga., spoke on NEMA’s behalf in his testimony in May before the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure.
NEMA was happy with the House bill. “We commend the House for advancing the use and deployment of energy-efficient electrical products and renewable energy, and we look forward to working on the legislation as it moves to a conference committee with the Senate,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan Gaddis in a press release.
According to that release, H.R. 3221 contains numerous NEMA-backed provisions to further energy efficiency, including new federal energy conservation standards for premium efficiency electric motors, metal-halide lighting fixtures, incandescent reflector bulbs and standby power. The bill also contained provisions to support the “smart” transmission and distribution grid, federal leadership in purchasing energy-efficient technologies, energy-savings performance contracts and high-performance green buildings. H.R. 2776 contained NEMA-specific tax provisions to extend the energy-efficient commercial building tax deduction through 2013, and five-year accelerated depreciation for advanced electricity meters.
The Senate passed its counterpart to H.R. 3221 in June, and the two bills must now be reconciled in a Joint Conference Committee. NEMA said the House provision on new light bulb standards is one area that must be worked out during conference, and that action on a Senate energy tax package is also still needed.
According to a Washington Post article on the bills, the House approved $16 billion in taxes on oil companies, while providing billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy and conservation efforts. The article went on to say that many Democratic and Republican lawmakers were on opposite sides of the vote, with some Republicans saying the bill was anti-oil and anti-gas, and Democrats hailing the bill as a step toward a more energy-efficient future for the United States.
The Washington Post article said a hotly debated provision of the bill was the requirement for investor-owned electric utilities nationwide to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind.