WASHINGTON — Even before she hit the presidential campaign trail, one of Michele Bachmann’s favorite targets has been the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a law signed by President George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama that sets high energy efficiently standards for incandescent light bulbs.
She’s contended that the standards are so stringent (a light bulb that currently consumes 100 watts of electricity will only be allowed to use 72 watts when the law is enacted) that they effectively restrict what light bulbs consumers are allowed to buy. She introduced the Light Blub Freedom of Choice Act earlier this year to repeal the new standards unless the government can prove, among other things, that “consumers will obtain a net savings, in terms of dollars spent on monthly electric bills and expenses for new light fixtures to accommodate the use of the light bulbs … compared to dollars spent before their enactment.”
That standard was demonstrated by a clean energy advocacy group Friday when it released data showing consumers will save an average of $85 a year under the new standards, which take effect on Jan. 1. Minnesotans will save just under the national average, at $72 a month.
That equates to about a 7 percent savings each month, or roughly a month off a consumer’s electric bill each year, according to the National Resource Defense Council, which released the data.
The cost per each new high-efficiency bulb does tend to be a bit higher, Appliance Standards Awareness Project executive director Andrew deLaski said, but the savings achieved through lower energy costs evens that out in an average of six months.
In total, Americans stand to save $12.5 billion a year under the news standards.
But Bachmann’s bill, and another introduced by Texas Republican Joe Barton, are geared more toward curbing what Bachmann has called the “explosive growth” in federal regulations.
“President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want in the United States of America,” she said after announcing her presidential bid.
Under Bachmann’s bill, a cost savings threshold is just one the government would need to overcome in order to enforce the new regulations. Two others relate to the effectiveness of the bulbs in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and proving there are no negative health effects from the phase-out of the old bulbs in public areas.
When she introduced the bill in March, she said the government would be hard pressed to meet all three standards.
The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices,” she said.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.