In March, ALA members were in Washington to deliver testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in support of the language of a federal bill that will impact portable lighting.
“Instead of responding to legislation and reacting to it,” says ALA President Dick Upton, “we were able to initiate legislation for the benefit of the industry.”
The Appliance Standards Improvement Act of 2009 (S. 598) will amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPACT) to improve the performance of appliances, which includes portable lighting. Like the ALA-supported energy-efficiency regulations adopted in 2008 by the California Energy Commission (CEC), S. 598 precludes power limitations on portables.
“That was a big achievement,” says Paul Eusterbrock, current ALA Chairman and Holtkötter President. “Another big achievement was to allow choices for the consumer.”
Pre-empting the States
A key aspect of the federal bill is that it pre-empts individual states from passing separate legislation on portables. “The ALA believes having one set of criteria is critical to free-flowing, interstate commerce,” Upton says. “The federal portable lighting bill, if passed, will also set an important precedent for all lighting fixtures to follow the same logical approach to provide energy efficiency.”
The ALA joined the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. (NEMA) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in support of the language proposed for S. 598 regarding portable lighting energy efficiency. This pre-hearing work with NEMA and ACEEE on proposed language demonstrates united support between manufacturers and energy-efficiency advocates. With that in place, S. 598 has a strong likelihood to succeed in its current form. “We don’t think anybody [in Congress] wants to touch the language because it’s a consensus of the industry and the advocates,” Eusterbrock says.
A similar hearing is expected in early May in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House bill language used to discuss portable lighting mirrors the Senate bill. Upton says it’s Congress’ goal to pass a final federal energy bill by the end of June.
“We’re very optimistic,” says Upton. “Especially since the projection by the CEC is that these five pathways will save 370 million kilowatt hours just in California.”