California, always the first to introduce ire-raising legislation, is proposing a law to ban all energy-gobbling incandescent light bulbs by 2012.
It's not the consumer who opposes Assemblyman Lloyd Levine's (D-Van Nuys) bill, but companies like General Electric, which don't want to see their incandescents go the way of the gas lamp.
GE announced it has its own new generation of incandescent bulbs that will be twice as efficient as their current products, and will be ready for market by 2010. Its equal-to-compact-fluorescents could be on the market by 2012.
Fine, GE. Go to it. Invent away. If you'd been quicker about it, your uber bulbs would already be on the market, and you wouldn't be battling Levine's law. A little dull-watted of you and a lot too late.
Being ever suspicious, I don't know if legislating my choice of light bulbs is a bright idea or not. I always suspect that there's brilliantly gleaming, crispy green behind such legislation for the pol who's promoting it.
And, since Wal-Mart is throwing its weight behind promoting the conversion from incandescents to fluorescents, you know there's big money there.
As a consumer, and one who lives in California, I know I want them to make it easier for me to buy the energy saving fluorescents.
The last time I bought some was about two years ago when I was got lost in a vast builder's supply store on my way to the lawn sprinkler fix 'em section, and ran into the light bulb department, which you'd think would be next to the lighting fixtures, but wasn't.
I found myself confronted by a dizzying blaze of choices; none of which told me the wattage.
The least they could have done would have been to post a humongous sign that even I, who can't read a word without my silly granny glasses or a giant magnifying glass couldn't miss, informing me of the conversion scale. Without it, how was I supposed to know if I were buying a bulb that was equal to 100-watts or 25-watts.
Making a mistake would have been costly, because at that time the energy savers were between $8 and $12 each. Even more at the grocery store.
So, I took a chance and bought a half-dozen. Upon getting home, one immediately slipped out of its protective paper wrapper and broke. Bye-bye eight bucks, and two didn't fit the lamps they were purchased for...they were too large.
Since I don't go to Lowe's or Depot all that often, I gave up and went back to buying incandescents at the market. I feel guilty, but they damn well better make it convenient for me and all consumers to buy their product at an affordable price. I've since found out that if size matters, we can now purchase smaller compact energy-saving bulbs, if we can find them.
Note: A 13-watt fluorescent is equal to a 60-watt regular bulb. For information go to 18seconds.org, a website backed by a coalition of government agencies, businesses, environmentalists and celebrities. The name comes from the 18 seconds the group says it takes to change a light bulb.