Biden Administration Implements New Energy Efficiency Standards for Light Bulbs, Phasing Out Sale of Most Incandescent Bulbs by 2023

The Department of Energy (DOE) has adopted two new rules for commonly-used light bulbs which are intended to phase out most incandescent bulbs in favor of LED lightbulbs, which use less energy and last significantly longer.

DOE estimates that, when fully implemented, consumers will save nearly $3 billon on their energy bills and the rules will curb carbon emissions by more than 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years.

Policy highlights:

  • What light bulbs are covered? DOE’s definitions for General Service Lamps (GSL) and General Service Incandescent Lamp (GSIL) are covered in the first rule. The purpose of the rule is to merely revise the scope of what constitutes GSLs and GSILs for the purposes of DOE efficiency standards. This rule enters into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
  • What new standards are imposed? The second rule codifies a 45 lumen per watt backstop requirement for GSLs, which originally was prescribed by Congress. This standard prohibits the sale of GSL (including GSIL) bulbs that emit less than 45 lumens per watt. This rule – which contains the meat of the energy efficiency standards – goes into effect 75 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
  • DOE’s enforcement discretion policy. While the policies become effective within 60 and 75 days respectively, DOE announced that it will use discretion in enforcing new rule requirements in a progressive manner transitioning through early 2023. All lamps must, however, continue to comply with prior conservation and certification requirements.

DOE announced a webinar to discuss the enforcement policy on May 4, 2022, to answer questions from the regulated community. Registration for the webinar is available here.

For questions about DOE’s energy efficiency standards, please reach out to any member of the Firm’s environmental practice.


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