Energy Commission Adopts Lighting Standards to Save Californians More Than $4 Billion in Electricity Costs

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2016
Media Contact: Amber Pasricha Beck – 916-654-4989

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission today adopted first-in-the-nation energy standards for the next generation of light bulbs. The standards cover small-diameter directional lamps, often used in track lighting, and general purpose light-emitting diodes – commonly called LEDs – used to replace typical existing home lighting.

With these new standards, consumers will save more than $4 billion in aggregate over the first 13 years and conserve enough electricity to power all of the households in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties (about 400,000 average homes). Bulbs that meet the new standards are already available to consumers.

The adopted standards will save consumers money in both electricity and bulb replacement costs. For a $4 investment in the more efficient small-diameter directional lamps, the Energy Commission estimates consumers will save nearly $250 in reduced energy and bulb replacement costs when averaged over 11 years. The lifetime savings for general purpose LEDs range from $4.50 to $12 and will likely grow as purchase prices continue to decline.

Small-diameter directional lamps
Small-diameter directional lamps are often used at commercial sites, such as stores and museums, for track lighting. In California, about 16 million of these bulbs are in use. The standards cover bulbs with a diameter of 2.25 inches or less and will go into effect January 1, 2018. The standards include:

  • A requirement that bulbs have either an efficacy greater than or equal to 80 lumens per watt or a color rendering index + Efficiency score of at least 165 with a minimum efficiency of at least 70 lumens per watt.
  • A minimum lifetime of 25,000 hours for each product. LED bulbs are the only products that meet this lifetime standard. The adoption is expected to cause a transition to LEDs from less efficient technologies.

The standards for general purpose LEDs include omnidirectional, directional, and decorative bulbs, as well as LEDs designed for retrofitting the covered socket types. LED bulbs consume less energy than other types of light bulbs and have a longer lifespan, making the lifetime energy savings far greater than the incremental cost.

The standards for LEDs include efficiency and quality improvements to initially take effect January 1, 2018. Additional amendments to strengthen efficiency and limit power in standby mode take effect July 1, 2019. The standards include:

  • A requirement for omnidirectional bulbs to produce a light distribution pattern that aligns with requirements adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program for bulbs.
  • A minimum lifetime requirement of 10,000 hours, equivalent to a ten year life in a typical home.
  • Limitations on how distorted a particular color appears under the bulbs.
  • A requirement of manufacturers to meet minimum performance thresholds before making claims about dimmability or other qualities.
  • A limit to the amount of power a connected LED can use in standby mode.

For more information please see the frequently asked questions on the lighting standards.

Other actions
The Energy Commission also approved the revised California Energy Demand 2016-2026 Electricity Forecast. The report is a baseline of consumption and peak demand for California. Overall, staff found that electricity use has slightly decreased compared to the 2014 forecast update. The findings also support a greater decrease in electricity sales and peak demand because of the increase in home solar systems. This report is used by the California Public Utilities Commission for long-term procurement planning and the Independent System Operator for transmission planning.

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The California Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.

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