Ruling sees California lead US transition to energy-efficient lighting


A US federal judge has rejected a petition from the country’s National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and the American Lighting Association, clearing the way for the rollout of energy-efficient lightbulbs across California.

The move contradicts US President Donald Trump’s scrapping of a rule by the country’s Department of Energy (DOE) that would have phased out the use of less-efficient incandescent bulbs.

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US district judge Kimberley Mueller ruled that state regulators had acted properly in applying exemptions which gave special privileges to California and Nevada, allowing the states to adopt tougher regulations more quickly than the DOE.

Supporters of the adoption have claimed state citizens will together be able to save as much as  $2.4 billion on their annual utility bills.

According to Mueller, the associations are unlikely to succeed in litigation which argues that the state rules conflict with federal law.

“Congress recognized, among other things, California’s history of leadership in energy efficiency regulations,” Mueller wrote in a statement.

Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the ruling “keeps California at the forefront of the movement to resist the Trump Department of Energy’s efforts to tie Americans to the technology of the past… Given our climate crisis, it’s appalling that the greedy lighting manufacturers are still fighting these common-sense regulations that deliver massive carbon savings and put money back in consumers’ pockets.”

The American Lighting Association’s vice president for government engagement, Michael Weems, told the Associated Press that a dangerous precedent has been set regarding federal pre-emption, “and the consumers of California will suffer as a result.”

“Retailers will be burdened with a perfectly good product that is now illegal for sale in California. Consumer access to these products is effectively eliminated,” he said in a statement.