California will begin enforcing new minimum energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs

On December 31, 2019, a federal judge ruled that California can begin enforcing new minimum energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs. The standard was adopted by the California Energy Commission following the federal government's recent move to remove the standard.

Light bulb energy efficiency standards were first passed under President George W. Bush and later expanded during the Obama administration. The extended version includes special bulbs like those for bathroom and recessed lighting, as well as candle-shaped lamps, not just the typical pear-shaped bulbs. The Obama-era rules aimed to phase out all incandescent and halogen bulbs and replace them with LED bulbs. In September, however, the Trump administration (Department of Energy) overturned the rule requiring full adoption of new light bulbs by 2020. One of their points is that the use of incandescent light bulbs continues to decline over time, even without new standards mandating the use of higher-cost LED lights.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs are among the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market today, 75-80% more energy efficient than regular bulbs.

In November 2019, when 16 states, including California and New York filed lawsuits over the government's revocation of the latest standards, the California Energy Commission decided to adopt the original federal legislation when two industry groups -- the American Electrical Manufacturers Association and another The Lighting Association filed an application for a temporary injunction to temporarily block the new minimum energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs passed by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in November.

The judge dismissed the petition on Dec. 31, saying the energy efficiency standards were "strongly supported by consumer groups." The American Bar Association said it was "discussing next steps with attorneys."

Noah Horowitz, director of the National Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) Center for Energy Efficiency, said the judge's decision "puts California at the forefront of resisting the Department of Energy's efforts to tie Americans to technologies of the past."