End of an era?

100-watt bulbs phased out, but SC company to keep making them anyway

rburris@thestate.comOctober 2, 2012 

T_KIMURA — istock.com

Monday’s legal ending of the production of standard 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in this country went almost totally unnoticed, but a South Carolina company says it will continue to make the bulbs anyway.

AAMSCO, an innovative lighting company in Summerville, said it has begun production of a commercial grade incandescent light bulb that is sturdier on the outside and contains non-hazardous materials on the inside, meeting new regulations and besting existing incandescents.

The new laws were aimed at improving energy efficiency as compact fluorescent lightbulbs – which use a quarter of the electricity as standard incandescents and last 10 times longer – started gaining in popularity.

For consumers who are still stuck on the old, pear-shaped incandescents they grew up with, retailers can continue to sell the supplies they have in stock and that are in the production and shipping pipeline, until those inventories completely dry up.

“We assumed we would (see a run on existing stock) because the 100-watt bulbs are popular with our customers, but no,” we haven’t, said Kristy Cottle, Cayce Ace Hardware store assistant manager. “There was a run when it (the production halt) was originally announced, but it’s died down. A lot of people have forgotten about it.”

A local Lowe’s store in the Columbia area said Monday they, too, have a good stock of the incandescents, due largely to an active production pipeline, and they have not seen a run on the 100-watt incandescents, either.

Congress outlawed manufacture of the 100-watt incandescents in 2007 in a bid to improve energy efficiency in the lighting business. The legislation, which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush, has since come to represent, for some, the long arm of government over-extending itself into consumers’ affairs.

In reaction, South Carolina this year passed its own law regulating production of the 100-watt-ers, dubbed The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, making it legal to produce and sell the bulbs in South Carolina, as a function of intrastate commerce.

AAMSCO, which produces its new light bulbs at a plant in Mullins and has the shipping boxes for them produced at a plant in Hartsville, says the bulbs are a jobs producer in South CArolina, and production is up from three days a week to five. The bulbs are only sold online at the www.AAMSCO.com website.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, the spiral-shaped bulbs that have been recommended to replace the incandescents, have been on the market for years. Production of the incandescents originally was supposed to cease on Jan. 1, but when the U.S. House of Representatives passed its budget late last year, the production deadline was kicked out to Oct. 1.

Manufacture of all watts of incandescent bulbs is set to expire in the U.S. by 2014.

The CFLs are just one of several more efficient lighting technologies available to consumers today, according to the S.C. Energy Office.

“Prices for CFLs have been reduced over the past few years, making them more comparable to incandescent bulbs, which creates a quicker return on investment,” Energy Office spokeswoman Rebecca Griggs said.

“Consumers should check with their local utilities as many offer incentives for switching to these more efficient bulbs.”

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