Thirteen American Lighting Association (ALA) representatives traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to talk with lawmakers about issues important to the lighting industry.
ALA President and CEO Dick Upton says the annual trip is crucial in helping ALA maintain good relationships with politicians and in making sure the organization has a say in legislation that affects the lighting industry.
“We have to go to Washington, D.C., so key people remember who and what we are,” he says.
At the top of this year’s regulatory agenda were the new Energy Star® requirements and a pending review of ceiling fan regulations.
According to Upton, new Energy Star® requirements are scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, which would mean all current Energy Star® labeled products would have to meet new requirements and be tested by a third party in order to maintain their Energy Star® designation. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet released a full list of approved testing facilities, so ALA is concerned manufacturers will not have time to get their products tested before the deadline. In their meeting with the EPA, ALA representatives urged decision makers to push back the deadline to June of next year, and the EPA responded with a revised deadline of April 2012.
“While we appreciate EPA’s movement, we are continuing to work for the June date,” Upton says.
ALA representatives also met with the Department of Energy (DOE) to discuss an upcoming review of energy efficiency requirements for ceiling fans as mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Upton says ALA just wanted to make sure that both ALA and fan manufacturers are involved in the review process. ALA representatives suggested that the DOE meet with ALA and ceiling fan manufacturers either in June during the Dallas Intl. Lighting Market or in September during the ALA Conference, which the DOE is considering.
Clark Linstone, President of Pacific Coast Lighting and Chair of the ALA Government/Regulatory Affairs Committee, says he and others on the trip also tried to convince lawmakers to reinstate the ceiling fan tariff exemption that was allowed to expire.
“The tariff was originally put into place to protect jobs in the U.S., but since there’s no domestic production of ceiling fans, we basically asked that the exemption be renewed,” he says. “All [the tariff] does is raise the cost of energy efficient products, because ceiling fans use less energy to cool a house than air conditioners.”
Other issues on ALA’s agenda included the pacing and frequency of recent lighting legislation, as well as shifting the focus away from the energy efficiency of specific products to the overall energy efficiency of a home, which would enable consumers to use some energy efficient products to balance out other appliances that might consume more energy, such as a plasma TV. Upton says members of Congress were receptive to both ideas, and that ALA will be producing a white paper for Congress on the latter issue.
In addition to Upton and Linstone, this year’s ALA delegation included Eugene Ansbaugh, President and Owner of Idaho Lights; Michael Ber, CLC, President of Lighting Inc.; Lars Bostrom, CLMR, President of Bostrom Lighting Sales; Nick Cardello, CEO of Cardello Electric Supply Company; M. Thomas Early, President of Burgess Lighting and Distributing; Brad Heimann, President and COO of Craftmade; Eric Jacobson, CAE, ALA Vice President of Membership; Terry McGowan, FIES, LC, ALA Director of Engineering and Technology; John McKiernan, Vice Chairman of Lutron; Ronald Milam, Owner of Lighting Emporium Inc.; and Fred Oberkircher, FIESNA, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.
During the trip, ALA representatives visited with several members of Congress, with whom they have good relationships, including Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Sen. M. Landrieu (D-LA), Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID).