“Right to Light” legislation passes Michigan House

LANSING — A bill that would skirt federal regulations phasing out inefficient incandescent light bulbs passed the state House of Representatives Thursday by a 62-46 margin.

The bill permits the sale of incandescent bulbs in Michigan as long as they are manufactured in the state and only sold within the state.

Currently, there are no Michigan manufacturers of incandescent bulbs.

State Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) said he sponsored the legislation because he wanted Michigan consumers to have more choice when it came to illuminating their homes. He disagreed with criticism that the legislation is a poor use of lawmakers’ time.

“I certainly think giving our citizens a choice between a $5 mercury-filled curlicue light bulb or a 50-cent incandescent bulb is worthwhile,” he said. “We’re giving them a chance to decide.”

The federal standards, enacted in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act, don’t expressly ban incandescent bulbs. Rather, they set efficiency standards for light bulbs, similar to miles-per-gallon standards for cars.

Currently, only compact fluorescent bulbs, some halogen bulbs and LEDs meet those standards.

(UPDATE 10/14/2011: Reader Shawn B. points out that halogen bulbs are incandescent bulbs — and that some halogens meet the efficiency standards.)

“Incandescent bulbs won’t go away,” Cyndi Roper, executive director of Michigan Clean Water Action said. “They’re going to need to be more efficient.”

Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club blasted the vote as a vote to raise utility costs on Michigan consumers, but Roper admitted the increased costs would only effect consumers who elected to use the less-efficient light bulbs.

McMillin said there’s a possibility for a manufacturer to open shop in Michigan, but that manufacturer wouldn’t be able to sell the bulbs outside of the state.

The bill moves to the state Senate for consideration.

E-mail Angela Wittrock: awittroc at mlive dot com and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/AngelaWittrock and Facebook, or reach her by phone at 517.908.0712.