WashTimes: Obama and the 50-buck light bulb

“To families trying to scrape by in this turkey-burger economy, 50 dollars for a light bulb is no way to save the planet.”

The Washington Times editorializes:

The 50-dollar light bulb is a good metaphor for the Obama administration – way too expensive for most Americans to put up with.

A new LED fixture from the Philips Corp. is the latest public-relations disaster for the Energy Department. The 60-watt equivalent bulb won the Energy Department’s $10 million “L Prize” for an environmentally sensitive bulb that is “affordable for American families.” The retail price is $50 each.

The new LED is more energy-efficient than standard incandescent bulbs and may last up to 10 years. Yet given that it costs 50 times the price of the typical old-style bulb, this eats up any long-term savings. The Energy Department defends the bulb’s exorbitant price, claiming costs are expected to fall over time. However, the original contest guidelines projected a retail price less than half of what the bulb wound up costing, and there are already much less expensive LED bulbs available that didn’t benefit from the Obama administration’s seal of approval.

It’s unseemly to give $10 million of the public’s money to a corporation in times of austerity when presumably Philips should have been trying to develop efficient, reliable, cost-effective light bulbs anyway. It’s called capitalism…

Read the entire editorial.

One thought on “WashTimes: Obama and the 50-buck light bulb”

  1. Steve, I don’t know the veracity of this,
    but I am reposting another angle, from Philip Premysler

    ” There are greater troubling issues beyond the price.

    The problem is that the L-Prize contest which was supposed to foster U.S. green technology competitiveness was RIGGED.

    As a foreign based (headquartered) corporation Philips was excluded from eligibility according to the law that established the L-Prize, in particular public law 110-140 section 655(f)(1). Under U.S. federal law the term “a primary place of business” used in the statute refers to the single headquarters location, which in the case of Philips is Amsterdam,Netherlands. Philips, of course, would have known that they were ineligible, so they put out PR flak alleging that the bulb was the result of a global effort. The truth, as evidenced in Philips patent on the bulb, is otherwise. See http://www.google.com/patents/… The bulb was developed in the Netherlands. Dept. of Energy energy bureaucrats who have been hobnobbing with Philips executives for years or DoE politicals who were looking for a photo-op apparently decided not to enforce the law.

    The L-Prize entry also failed to meet key technical requirements of the contest. The Philips entry does not meet the stated uniformity requirement of the contest.
    This is admitted in a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, see http://TINYURL.COM/43ECMQM.
    The curt justification asserted in that document based on comparing uniformity to a standard incandescent lamp is factually (quantifiably) false. The putative L-Prize winner is actually less uniform

    The Philips entry also failed to produce the required amount of light. In one test 62 out of 100 bulbs failed. (See above linked document)
    Whether the commercialized version will consistently produce the required amount of light is an open question, HOWEVER the stated procedure for the contest was that if the entry failed a required test the entry would fail. What happened is that Philips wanted to submit prematurely to claim the prize and the Department of Energy did not want to follow the rules and fail them, rather they embarked on RIGGING the contest. They kept the failure secret and proceeded with other tests.

    The result is that a bulb developed by Dutch inventors, built with some (possibly most) of its parts made in Shenzhen China (see http://www.dailytech.com/Phili… ) has been given a great initial advantage which may allow it to dominate U.S. competitors, even though the contest is RIGGED.

    We may wind up with Dutch citizens enjoying social welfare benefits such as vacations for the unemployed, supported by Chinese workers working 12 hours a day and American consumers squeezed by $50 light bulb prices whether they pay that amount at the check out counter or indirectly pay for subsidies through their electric bill. “

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