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EISA Update: Inevitable expanded definition of general service lamps

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Matt Bowgren's picture
Manager of Retail Products Strategy Franklin Energy

Having spent time working across residential lighting and appliance, commercial and industrial gas, and industrial electric programs, I find myself drawn universally to improving the customer...

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  • Nov 23, 2021
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Given the notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) and following comments (submission period closed on 10/18/2021), there is no doubt that the definition of general service lamps (GSL) and general service incandescent lamps (GSIL) will be expanded to include most of the previously excluded lamp types, such as reflector lamps, candelabra-base lamps, and three-way lamps. In my opinion, there are only two unknown factors based on the available information:

  1. How will some of the fringe exemptions work specifically around low-lumen and colored bulbs, potentially expanding or contracting slightly from the previously proposed 2017 revisions?
  2. When will the rule go into effect?

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Factor one is unlikely to have a major impact on the market.

Factor two is important. The existing regulations on GSLs and GSILs regulate manufacturing, rather than point-of-sale, so once an expanded definition goes into effect, it would mean that manufacturers could no longer produce that type of bulb. "Produce" doesn't mean just the literal physical assembly of the product, but instead occurs at the time of manufacture OR "import". If you're familiar with freight terms, such as FOB destination, the words "or import" are significant, because it could result in stranded inventory both still at the manufacturer but intended for the US and shipments in transit that haven't cleared US customs.

The effective date proposed by the EPA was 60-days from publication, however manufacturers pushed back on this date as impossible. As stated by Joe Howley of GE Lighting, "It would be impossible under today’s operating environment," in reference to the current shipping and manufacturing challenges. In reference to how long it would take suppliers to replace affected products, Mr. Howley continued, "it would take much, much longer, probably on the order of nine months or so, to get products made, shipped, and [to retailers]."1

The general response was that the EPA must "balance" the cost to the manufacturers with the cost to the public, so the resulting timeline will not likely give manufacturers as much time as they would like based on the belief that the sooner the regulations go into effect, the sooner consumers will start to save. Given that final comments were submitted a month ago, it is still quite possible that we see a filing by the end of the year.

And to leave you with a related cliffhanger, the NOPR regarding the backstop requirement that all general service lighting must produce at least 45 lumens per watt has been sitting with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA, pronounced “oh-eye-ruh”) since 9/21/2021. Two years ago, the final ruling to not institute the backstop sat with OIRA and was published on 12/27/2019. Might we see another end-of-year ruling in a poetic display of government regulation?

Table display that the proposed ruling for the Backstop Requirement for General Service Lamps has been pending review since 9/21/2021


1: Howley, J. (2021, October 7). 2021-09-30 Transcript of Proceedings In The Matter Of: Definitions For General Service Lamps, General Service Incandescent Lamps, And Other Supplemental Definitions, Docket No.: EERE-2021-BT-STD-0012. Regulations.gov. other, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.regulations.gov/document/EERE-2021-BT-STD-0012-0007.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 23, 2021

Might we see another end-of-year ruling in a poetic display of government regulation?

Would this be an intentional delay-- akin to waiting until the news cycle is less likely to be picked up? 

Matt Bowgren's picture
Matt Bowgren on Nov 23, 2021

In 2019 the reason for the timing was definitely intentional - exactly as you stated. This time around, it could be intentional in that I don't believe they want this ruling to get as much attention as the backstop ruling which is likely just being held so it can be published after expanding the definition of general service lamps. General public won't think much about the definition of lamp types until the backstop ruling comes out and they go, "I see what you did there."

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