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Better Bulbs, Better Jobs: New NRDC Report Outlines Critical Benefits of Ohio Industry

Dylan Sullivan

Posted February 21, 2012

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Maybe you’ve heard about the many benefits of the federal lightbulb efficiency standards that went into effect almost two months ago, on January 1st: how the legislation—passed by an large, bipartisan majority in 2007 and signed into law by President George W. Bush—will save the average American household at least $85 a year—kind of a stimulus package in your light socket. Or, how, nationwide, it will eliminate the need for 30 new power plants, whose construction would further jack up electric costs. Maybe you’ve heard how, each year, the standards will prevent 10-million-cars-worth of global-warming- and air pollution from entering our fragile atmosphere and, also importantly, our children’s developing lungs.

Probably, though, you haven’t heard the other good news about the federal light bulb standard. It’s creating jobs in Ohio. According to a new report NRDC just released, the growing market for energy-efficient lighting has resulted in more than 1,500 manufacturing jobs in Ohio. And it’s not just manufacturing jobs the law has created. In Ohio, federal efficiency standards, and state ones, too, are creating jobs for engineers and designers, for clerical workers, sales people, for middle managers and administrators, among others. In other words, efficiency standards help generate the broad spectrum of jobs Ohioans need now.

Let’s start with manufacturing jobs. Since the summer of 2000, our country has lost a startling 32 percent of its manufacturing base. Ohio has been particularly hard hit, losing 282,000 manufacturing positions. Energy-efficient light bulbs, though, are bringing manufacturing jobs back. Not all 282,000 of them, by any means. But they’re an important start. 

Steve Stockdale of Advanced Lighting Technologies with the company's 2X more efficient incandescent halogen bulb. Visible inside is the Ohio-created capsule responsible for the bulb's 100% efficiency increase. Photo credit: Lauren Kubiak.

Let me give you some examples:

  • In October 2010, GE’s facility in Bucyrus hired more than 100 new workers to manufacture high-efficiency lighting products.
  • Blue Ash’s LSI Industries has hundreds of workers producing LED lighting fixtures and other high-efficiency lighting products. “Our slogan is, ‘American innovation, American made,’” founder Bob Ready says proudly.
  • At Advanced Lighting Technologies in Solon, 120 workers create the interior capsules that boost next-generation incandescents’ efficiency.
  • And at TCP, which supplies compact fluorescents and other high-efficiency bulbs to big box retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart and Sears, the company is bringing some of its manufacturing jobs back to its suburban Cleveland campus. Back from where, you might ask. Back from China. When was the last time you heard of that happening?

Of course, manufacturing jobs aren’t the only ones smart federal and state policies have helped create. GE’s East Cleveland headquarters employs 700 engineers and designers who are envisioning and designing the efficient lighting products of the future. TCP houses its R&D and administrative bases in suburban Cleveland. And, in Parma, GrafTech develops products that manage the heat generated by energy-sipping LED lights. (The bulbs use only 10-15 percent of the electricity incandescents do.)

State efficiency standards, which require electric utilities like AEP and FirstEnergy to help their customers save energy, are creating jobs too. At J&M Electrical Supply, a family-owned business in Cambridge, the number of lighting efficiency upgrades the company has performed in the last two years has doubled.  At neighboring J’s Service Lighting, lighting efficiency expert Jay Patterson is so overbooked, he’s had to limit his customers to a 45-mile radius.

In Ohio, there are hundreds of workers like Patterson, who make their living by providing the great energy-, money- and pollution savings benefits that efficient lighting brings. I’m proud that the energy-efficiency standards NRDC and others have worked so hard to effect protect not only our children and our climate but Ohioans’ jobs, too.

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peter dublinFeb 24 2012 12:58 PM

The arguments here are not just wrong about the savings, and not just wrong about how any savings are best achieved,
but also wrong about job creation.

To begin with:
Overall energy savings from incandescent ban are a fraction of 1% on US Energy Dept stats and surveys, and EU data (incl UK Cambridge analysis)
- also why individual savings are much less than supposed, and the better energy saving alternaives in electricity generation, grid distribution , and alterntaive consumption

End user energy efficiency regulations are
therefore a poor way of saving energy
(quite apart from freedom of choice issues)

No power plants would be saved anyway,
on the basis of constant base loading requirements
(it's similar to saying if the USA had hundreds of thousands less school students, then far fewer schools need be built, which of course is not true on the basis that schools are always needed in the areas, regardless of whether 500 or 700 students locally attend)

This is simply a token ban on popular and cheap but unprofitable incandescents that visibly shows "politicans are doing something", at least doing something for lobbying manufacturers, again as referenced

Why would anyone lobby for and welcome a ban on what they are allowed to make? ;-)

More about the deception behind banning light bulbs,
- a referenced rundown of why the arguments don’t hold

peter dublinFeb 24 2012 01:10 PM

even if a specific light bulb policy was needed:

Stimulated market competition (best)
or taxation-subsidies are better alternatives.

1. Taxation-Subsidies:
1 1/2 - 2 billion annual pre-ban sales of relevant incandescent light bulbs in the USA as in the EU shows the potential Government taxation income from them alone.
What do regulations give governments in direct income? Nothing.

Meanwhile, consumers keep choice and are "not just hit by taxes",
in that tax money can also go to lower the prices of energy saving alternatives.

# # #

2. Stimulated Competition
This is the best option also to lower energy consumption, all the way along the energy usage chain:

Firstly, because electricity producers, just like manufacturers, are then more keen to keep down their own energy usage and cost.

Secondly, because manufacturers are then also pushed to deliver energy and cost saving products that the public actually want (and have always wanted, and do buy, even when costing more: batteries, cleaning fluids etc imaginately marketed
"expensive to buy but cheap in the long run"
- those manufacturers don't run crying to the regulators, seeking to have cheap unprofitable alternatives banned!).

New energy saving inventions can always be helped to the market, though not continually supported.

More on the market / taxation alternative policies

peter dublinFeb 24 2012 01:29 PM

Thirdly, the Jobs issue

Certainly , if simple cheap incandescent alternatives are banned, there is clearly a "market" for other bulbs to be made with related jobs,
but is hardly the way to achieve desirable lighting for Americans (remembering that energy saving mandates alter product characteristics, including halogen-regular incandescent differences)
Even then, the US Govmt typically finds it necessary to have ongoing taxpayer subsidies for green ventures, eg
CREE LED manufacturing in North Carolina
and elsewhere

Stimulated market competition (including helping inventors to market but no further),
creates more longer lasting jobs,
also in regard to manufacturing energy saving products that people actually want to buy,

The EU ban legislating European Commission acknowledged the thousands of European light bulb manufacturing job losses resulting from the ban

Similarly, American jobs have already been lost from plant closures (eg Virginia)

Despite the mentioned US manufacturing,
the pushed CFL and LED replacements are principally made in China (in whole, or for re-assembly and re-branding).

Incandescent-related jobs with major manufacturers may eventually have been lost anyway,
but regulations have hastened the move,
and it should be noted that any light bulb manufacture start-up is made less likely when it must meet energy usage standards that make the light bulbs (incandescent or otherwise) more complex and difficult to make.

Moreover, more easily locally made simple bulbs environmentally reduce energy and CO2 emissions in both manufacture and transport.

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