Federal Court Approves New California Light Bulb Standards

by Autumn McGarr

SACRAMENTO, CA — A federal court has cleared the way for California’s updated light bulb efficiency standards to take effect, thwarting attempts by the lighting industry to block the energy-saving standards.

The court’s denial last month of a request for a temporary restraining order means that California is proceeding with stopping the sale of incandescent bulbs designed to fill 260 million sockets in the state, a move that will cut utility bills while combating climate pollution, advocates of the legislation said.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the American Lighting Association have worked together to urge the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to issue a temporary restraining order against the standards as part of a lawsuit seeking to reverse the California Energy Commission’s November, 2019 decision to expand its minimum efficiency standards for light bulbs. The denial did not include a date for court proceedings to begin on the lighting associations’ lawsuit.

The associations are fighting the addition of such common household types as the candle- and flame-shaped bulbs used in chandeliers and sconces, reflector bulbs used in recessed cans and track lighting, round globe bulbs, and the bulbs that can operate at three different light levels – the same models the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently eliminated from being covered by national lighting efficiency standards. Environmental interests, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), have sued over the rollback.

Under the new standards, energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs will continue to be sold in California, but incandescent and halogen bulbs were removed from retail outlets as of Jan. 1 because they do not meet the minimum efficiency level of 45 lumens per watt.

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