What’s the big deal with the lightbulb ban?

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

17 thoughts on “What’s the big deal with the lightbulb ban?”

  1. Ain’t no big thing. But there are a few “patriots” out there who think the government phasing out the 100W incandescent bulb (with a more efficient halogen bulb) is “gateway legislation” that will lead to a police state.

    1. CFL’s use only a quarter of the electricity of incandescent bulbs or a 75% reduction in cost. I suspect your PG&E increase was only a tiny fraction of that. Also take heart that it would have been far greater if you and all of us hadn’t been adopting this extremely energy saving device.

      1. Greg,
        Can you then explain the rationale of the “smart meter”? And why my bill increased by a large margin when that also was supposed to save me money? I paid less to have a meter reader come out and read my meter.

      2. PG&E is tasked with managing California’s electrical supply with barely adequate generation capacity.
        You have to decide which is cheaper in the long run: the do-it-yourself dynamos, or the smart meter.
        If you don’t like how PG&E does it, I suggest you buy a propane or natural gas powered electrical generator, some batteries and solar panels, and insulate the heck out of your house.

    2. My take away from the whole Smart Meter thing (aside from the concern over electromagnetic radiation) is that PG&E has greater control over the metering of ‘Peak’ rates. Best described by a friend that runs a field of Solar Panels that adequately replaces their daytime usage; that with the addition on a ‘smart’ (continuously polled) meter, the utility company now can segment the hourly usage and not only charge premiums for the primary period of 6-10pm, but also pay a lesser rate to those that are generating power and ‘selling’ back into the grid.

      Here’s an older article that more adequately describes the intent:

  2. J- are we related?
    We have been on solar for about 9 years. Tiered metering as you describe is a cool thing. PG&E charges (and purchases from us) at a higher rate during peak hours in peak season (daytime in summer) than in low use hours and seasons. It becomes almost reflexive to run appliances and the well pump at night or weekends when we’re buying electricity at a low rate, and sell electricity to the grid when rates are high.

    If smart meters successfully steer the public toward conservation, I’m all for it. Better that than building more power plants.

    As an aside, PG&E pumps water uphill into Oroville Reservoir at night when they buy power from themselves for cheap, then generates power during the day. Of course this is a net loss of energy, but it seems like an intelligent use of a hydro battery.

    1. ^^^ Hi Ralph, that would be one heck of a coincidence! (and doubtful) To be honest, I don’t know much of the Cutter side of my family, as Grandad was a rolling stone, and Dad passed young, but this branch of the tree dies with me, as I have no sons, nor did any of my uncles. I identify more with the rest of the heritage, and am just finishing the raising to adulthood the fifth generation of Nevada County citizens.

      As for the Smart Meter issue, while I do agree with the upside potential for someone such as yourself, I fully expect the further manipulation of ‘Peak’ rates to adversely affect the net expense for those purely dependent upon the grid. The bottom line is that I think they’ll use the metering to justify increases that ultimately exceed what were once averaged rates. Before, they had no way of identifying whether consumption was wholly in ‘off-peak’ hours, etc.

  3. Viral anti-government e-mails have been circulating for years on this topic. I don’t see any reason why government shouldn’t support energy savings by requiring effeciency standards because it forces some incentive toward inovation and competition. It also encourages an energy savings lifestyle.

    The Smart Meter enables PG&E to remotely read your energy consumption throughout the day so they can display a graph of consumption to you so you can control/adjust your usage. PG&E plans to use this to empliment rate structure providing lower energy costs during periods of low consumption. This will encourage customers to use energy at the lowest rate time periods.
    PG&E started on this energy savings project 25 years ago when it offered lower rates to those who signed up for their Time/Use program. We are still on this program. We pay a lesser rate between 6 pm and Noon. We control our energy consumption based upon this system. For example, we use central heat and air, run the pool pump, use the washer and dryer and dishwasher during low peak hours. We have a 2700 square foot home and have NEVER spent more than $120 per month in the 33 years we’ve lived in our home. We’ve used CFL for 20 years.
    Our lifestyle includes energy savings. Every home improvement project took this into consideration so our efforts have offset the increased energy costs over the years.

  4. I am going to have to do some more research. Despite using CFL lighting, buying energy efficent appliances, buying the most efficient Heat/Air system@ not a cheap price might I ad,(and using that very sparingly) my bills still run higher than people with similar sized homes. Maybe I should look into an enery audit. Thanks to everyone for thier imput!

  5. I suspect that the high rates, which of course result in high bills even with a bunch of energy efficiencies in place, are the result of paying off the power boondoggles of the past decade and finding out that those renewable portfolios that we are mandating are not as cheap as everyone says they are.


      1. Excellent source. I have been looking for something like that. I wonder what the time frame is as wind costs should remain stable or drop and coal should go up with additional environmental issues.

        I see your point with PV but the same advantages as above evidence here over fossil fuel in the long run.

        What are you calling a boondoggle, though??

      2. Greg,

        There I was referring to the tens of billions in costs that ratepayers incurred with the so-called “deregulation” from the Peace bill in I think the late 90’s.

        It was more like a soviet style exchange and was really at the center of the whole Enron controversy in many ways.


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