October 14, 2011

House Republicans Vote in Favor of Raising Utility Costs

Thursday, Oct. 14, 2011    
Contact:    Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter: 517-484-2372 x13
                  Cyndi RoperClean Water Action: 517-490-1394

House Republicans Vote in Favor of Raising Utility Costs 

LANSING – In a near party line vote, the Michigan House of Representatives today passed House Bill 4815, with an overwhelming majority of Republican legislators voting in favor of the bill. HB 4815, as written, would exempt Michigan-manufactured incandescent light bulbs from the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 if they are sold in Michigan.  The federal act is set to phase out inefficient light bulbs by 2014 in an effort to increase energy efficiency in the United States. Contrary to these efforts, HB 4815 supports inefficient and outdated technology. Inefficient light bulbs require more energy to operate, and in turn require more energy be created from dirty energy sources, which have a major impact on our water, our air, and the public’s health.

“This vote sends a simple message: House Republicans do not care about consumers,” said Mike Berkowitz, Michigan Chapter Organizer for the Sierra Club. “This vote could collectively cost Michiganders over $350 million each year and increases the energy bill for each Michigan household by $85 annually. The legislature should not encourage our state to be less efficient, create more pollution, and charge ratepayers more.”

Despite claims made to the contrary, the federal Energy Independence and Security Act does not phase out incandescent light bulbs. Instead, the act promotes the use of more efficient versions that comply with these efficiency standards and provide an alternative for consumers who find compact fluorescents objectionable. These more efficient incandescent bulbs are produced by popular brands such as Philips, Sylvania, and GE. Their cost is similar to that of Compact Fluorescent bulbs and they are readily available on the shelves of your local home improvement store. Also, LED options are available for consumers as another lighting alternative.

“Instead of dictating what light blubs Michiganders can and can’t use, why doesn’t the House majority focus on creating jobs?” asked Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. “HB 4815 is simply a misguided attempt to undermine sound energy policy and will do nothing to create jobs in our great state. If the legislature truly wants to support Michigan residents having a full choice of lighting options, they should work with manufacturers to help bring efficient incandescent bulb production and the associated jobs to Michigan.” Roper explained that instead of voting for HB 4815, Michigan lawmakers should use their clout to embrace the emerging national market for efficient incandescent light bulbs. “By creating a niche for the efficient incandescent bulb industry in Michigan, you would help create much-needed jobs while reducing energy waste,” she concluded.

Currently, the state of Michigan is progressing toward energy independence. This bill would damage such progress and create extra costs to consumers, state government and the environment. The bill now moves to the Michigan State Senate.

Natural Resources Defense Council Study: http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/betterbulbs.pdf