It Took $50 Million In Taxpayer Subsidies To Create A $50 Replacement For A $1 Light Bulb

I posted about this yesterday, but it’s so absurd it’s worth posting again (if only to shamelessly rip off Mark Perry’s headline).

The U.S. government last year announced a $10 million award, dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a “green” but affordable light bulb.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.” There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb would have to be made in the United States.

Now the winning bulb is on the market.

The price is $50.

Retailers said the bulb, made by Philips, is likely to be too pricey to have broad appeal. Similar LED bulbs are less than half the cost.

To be fair, these light bulbs are selling on Amazon right now for $25.70 each (plus shipping). I have no idea if that’s a profitable price or if there’s some sort of subsidy involved to promote them, but that’s still a lot of money given that the incandescents I’m using right now are costing me less than $1 each. I replace them about once every six months in the high-traffic areas of our house (the halls, kitchen and living room where they’re used a lot), so in order for one of these bulbs to be worth it they would have to last for about 15 years and/or provide about $24 in energy savings over their lifespan per bulb.

Color me extremely skeptical.

But maybe we can do the math on these bulbs to make them worth it. Maybe they’re a big improvement in cost and performance over incandescent bulbs. If that’s true, why not leave the incandescents on the market and let these LED bulbs compete? Rather than having politicians and lobbyists and political commentators wrangling over whether or not these bulbs are worth it, why not let the individual consumer be the judge?

My guess is because those backing the bulbs, from the rent-seeking companies to the meddlesome politicians, know that competition wouldn’t end well.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • whowon

    Can’t seem to get ONE liberal to comment on this hideous story. Crickets as usual, rather talk about Fluke and “women’s health”. Guess they don’t realize that their tax dollars are once again being wasted. 

    • Jgh

      Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the sponsor of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US. Why would liberals comment? Y’all can criticize Republicans, can’t you?

      • two_amber_lamps

         Shur can… toss him on the ousted pile of NEO-CONS during his next election cycle.  Leftists are doing a good enough job of sinking the country without sympathizer rinos helping them along.

      • Gern Blanston

        It is a criticism of liberals, not exclusively democrats. It is the liberal behavior of too many republicans in congress (particularly the Senate) that helped get Mr. Obama a spot in the White House. 

    • noblindersonme

      Can’t we get one liberal to comment …..? Maybe you can’t beause  liberals see this for what it is…. a diversion , a cherry picked topic that the extreme right can glom onto and keep fresh like a watered and fertilized weed .
       How much devotion to this Rob do you NEED!
       Say -today a US soldier started shoooting , went berzerk,  and killed and killed and the Taliban is going a bit crazy again with this series of incidents you don’t seem to give a s#it about!!!!
      as long as it is happenning far far far away right! Korans are burned accidently and well- lets NOT give that story much attention. OUR fellow neighbors who are STILL patroling and dying over there , well – that is a old story -it is sooo 2004! In THIS campaign you got to stay focused on the real stuff -right . Damn this ‘light bulb  issue ‘!! can’t those libs see how that is tearing at the fabric of AMERICA!!!
       Say  WHO WHO , that is called ‘ being facetitious’!  
       Guess” we ( liberals) don’t realize that tax # are being wasted!” Guess what asshat , we perfectly are aware of where tax $ came fromand where they are going . 1 trillion went to  that fight for freedom and against terror ‘ !  Remember! those brave men and women coming home need more than a handshake and a pat on the back and  a hope that becuase they served and you guys didn’t , they will vote republican and think your selfish need to have a certain kind of ‘light bulb ‘ is ‘ why they risked thier lives over there’!
       What is YOUR plan for paying off that trillion $ debt ? What is your plan for the future of that area , the trama of Middle East, brink of war, politics have been going on for -well only my entire life it seems -60+ years!) What is your plan for assimulating all those veterans now coming home with post trama snydromes?
       Oh I know BLAME IT ALL ON OBAMA !
       Tell you what ,asshats at SAB  , if and when we get attacked again , and remember Cheney promised America it would happen again because he surely thought Obama could not keep us safe, this BS you are indulging in ain’t gonna mean nothing! 
       Maybe the right is focusing so much on this because they are so unable to accept the reality that Amercia has been safe for the past 5 under the democrats !  Does that piss you guys off ? Gee I thought you guys had America’s best interests at heart , and it didn’t matter who got the credit!

      • noblindersonme

        and I know I will piss the righties off with that ! I just enjoy pointing that out to them. DOMESTIC safety was the one and only issue when Bush and co. held all the power. Bush kept us safe , Bush got Saddam !!! Relect Republicans Only THEY can keep us safe!!!
          After a pretty much action for action continuence of those same policies , and a  continued period of safety from attacks , and the elimination of many terrorists leaders , many of who the REPUBLICANS  failed to get , this most important of issues just does not get those little republican hearts beating as much anymore .
         And if can read my critique and think there is no truth in it  then you guys have truly taken your eyes off the ball!

        • James Kearney

          Thing is, Obama would never have tried to get them to start with. The military is doing what Bush assigned them to do.

      • stanta

        The Taliban is going a bit crazy again.

        So, they are going to try to kill us deader? Can you make water wetter?

        I agree get the troops out, nation building doesn’t work. How many have we lost to Afghan nationals is government uniforms?

    • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

      From the linked article:

      Energy legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2007
      introduced a ban on inefficient incandescent light bulbs, covering
      traditional 100-watt bulbs this year. Sales of traditional 75-watt
      incandescents will be prohibited next year, and 60-watt incandescents
      will go after that.

      Darn those Socialistical Marxist Secret Muslim Kenyan America Freedom Hating bushies.
      Who won?

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    Anyone heard of the Glubmaker Project?

    • VocalYokel

       “Glub”

      Isn’t that the sound one makes when going under for the last time?

      • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

        That too.

        • two_amber_lamps

          I think that’s the sound the government makes when going under for the last time…

    • $8194357

      What is it flame?

      • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

        It’s a joke I heard at least 50 years ago, but it dates from the time of the FDR Administration.  I tried to google it up, but the one and only reference to it is to a blog posting by Rob Port in late 2010.  And it wasn’t there either!

        I do not recall the whole story line, which would make it a better joke but, in brief, it goes something like this: Someone convinces the government that a secret device needs to be built. The government goes to great trouble and expense—millions—to build this enormous, extremely complicated device.  When completed, the huge device is loaded onto the deck of an aircraft carrier.  No one knows how it works or what it is supposed to do.  The aircraft carrier transports the monster device to a special location in the middle of the Pacific.  When the location is reached, giant cranes hoist the machine off the deck and swing it over the water.  The cable holding it is released and it falls into the ocean.  After the initial splash, the machine goes GLUB!  GLUB! GLUB!  The joke apparently had considerable currency at the time.

        • mickey_moussaoui

          OOOhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you mean the VOLT!

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    It’s all part of Obama’s redistribution scheme which redistributes the money from slackers to Obama’s rich buddies.

    • I H8 GOPers

       Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the sponsor of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US.

      • Gern Blanston

        It is a criticism of liberals, not exclusively democrats. It is the liberal behavior of too many republicans in congress (particularly the Senate) that helped get Mr. Obama a spot in the White House.

  • Jimmypop

    my mercury filled light bulbs don’t last nearly as long as I am told they will. i need to start saving the receipts and returning them.

    it is scary/ sad how stupid voters are.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      That has been my experience with cfls too. Theyre not lasting all that longer than the incandescents for me.

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      I don’t remember getting a chance to vote on this.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        You didnt need to. Big Goverent knows best.

        • I H8 GOPers

           Republican big government. Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the sponsor of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US.

          • Gern Blanston

            It is a criticism of liberals, not exclusively democrats. It is the liberal behavior of too many republicans in congress (particularly the Senate) that helped get Mr. Obama a spot in the White House.

  • two_amber_lamps
  • WOOF

    $ 50 million is a couple of sets of tires on an F-35.

    R&D pays off.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      So, you like corporate welfare?

    • Jfisher17

      “R&D pays off.” How so ? Not in a free market would such “R&D pay off.”

      • WOOF

        Says the man on the internet,

        • Jfisher17

          In reply to the other man on the internet. Nice, try, Woof

          • Southern Libertarian

            What he means is.. government R&D developed the internet.. but who’s to say it wouldn’t have evolved on it’s own.. I ran a BBS back in the day, and we had our own “internet”-like network called fidonet.. 

          • Econwarrior

            Govt did not develop the internet.  A few govt scientists, on their own, developed ARPANet, to communicate securely over distance.  The free market developed the internet, using that idea, but taking it far beyond the original form.

          • WOOF

            Gov’t R&D
            The ARPANET was originally created by the IPTO under the sponsorship of DARPA 

            Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

          • Econwarrior

            Thanks for repeating what I already said.  It wasn’t the internet, it was a secure info system between high security locations.  The fundamental hardware/software was eventually developed into the internet by private enterprise.  For it to become the internet, a fairly large number of personal computers had to be in possession of private entities, which didn’t exist when arpanet came into being.  Are you really that dumb?

          • two_amber_lamps

             You are an idiot…  all leftist ideologues know that The Goracle invented the internet…

            http://cherrybombed.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/al-gore-get-off-my-internet.jpg

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      Tires for a Space Shuttle run $6000 each …

  • http://randysroundtable.blogspot.com/ Randy G

    $600.00 and my house will be darker than what it was.

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    C’mon. Let’s put this in perspective: The Manhattan Project from development to delivery cost about 4000 times the cost of development to delivery of this light bulb and—while the light produced was much greater—the device pretty much burned out in seconds.

  • HG

    I’d love to see the energy consumption that goes into manufacturing these led’s compared to incandescents.  

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Thats a really good question.

  • $8194357

    (It Took $50 Million In Taxpayer Subsidies To Create A $50 Replacement For A $1 Light Bulb)

    Just one of many excamples of what DC has been doing to us US taxpayers since they formed the IRS in 1913…Marxist crony capitalist deconstruction of a free market capitalist limited governance republic…Twice the deconstructive bang for the buck to enrich the favored few at the expense of the many, IMHO…

    • two_amber_lamps

       I’ll betcha mfgr’s would have R&D’d a replacement once the market would bear it….  only leftist ideologues will spend $50 for a light bulb…

      Lol… who am I kidding?  They’ll buy it with a $48 government subsidy!! 

      Leftist wastrels get you coming and going….

  • mickey_moussaoui

    15 year life span….

    big deal. We all are going to die of mercury poisoning
    from those energy efficient florescent bulbs that they have forced on us a few
    years ago

    • two_amber_lamps

      Lol…  you mean the ones that seem to last a few months and then mysteriously blow out?  Maybe I need to replace the bases for the correct “wattage” as “No”/Happy-tized/Captain Obvious mentioned in another thread? (/sarc)

      Thanks for another POS invention that costs me more and doesn’t live up to the vaunted claims of the left…

  • Meyerjh

    Incandescent bulbs are 98% efficient.  They use approximately 3 – 4 % of this energy to produce light, and the other 94 – 95% is given off as heat.  Now— in our house, we spend up to a thousand $ each year on heating fuel to keep our house comfortable.  The heat given off by our incandescent bulbs helps to heat our house in the winter, and the BTU’s we get from electricity (light bulbs) are far cheaper than those from our heating fuel.  We may go to more cfl’s in the summer when we are cooling the house, but in winter, we will continue to use incandescents.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      If you can find them to buy.

      • fedupny

        Just found out the other day that the phaseout is for “general service” bulbs. Incandescent bulbs can still be manufactured ( in the USA) and sold. They are a little more expensive(about $2) but heavier duty and are called “rough service” bulbs. It is an exemption in the phaseout.

    • Geoff

      Meyerjh.

      That has to be the stupidest comment I’ve ever heard. The small amount of heat put off by these bulbs wouldn’t contribute squat to the total heat loss of your home. You need 3414 watts to equal 12000 btu’s. The average bulb touts 13 watts equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent. So if u install 262 cfl’s you will get 12000 btu’s per hour. In nd the average house consumes 68000000 btu’s conservatively to heat your house annually.

      Good luck.

      If only the government knew how to add and subtract.

      • Geoff

        Correction. 3414 btu per kilowatt. My math is messed up. But you still can’t heat your house with lightbulbs.

      • Stettoman

        Uh…I seem to remember back when GWB was suckered into the ludicrous banning of incandescents he was told that the heat coming off of them was making AlGore rich beyond avarice by contributing to his obsession with the fraudulent carbon offset business. Now it’s stupid?

        I have a recording studio in the basement that maintains a constant temp of 62 degrees, winter, summer, even the occasional February 29th—Unless I turn the lights on (5 35-watt minifloods on a track system), and after an hour or so the temp rises to 75 degs.

        Intellectual hypocrasy is the epitome of ignorance.

    • I H8 GOPers

       98% + 94-95% = good republican math, and explains republican economics.

  • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

    I’m going to have to pick up a few of these great bulbs.  I hope this design can be used with recessed lighting in the future.

    Color me extremely skeptical. – Rob Port

    I would have to paint over the color stupid in order for that to happen.

    • two_amber_lamps

       Go buy a Volt too….  please lock the doors and stay inside should you have any battery issues.

    • Guest

      ” I hope this design can be used with recessed lighting in the future.”

      You need to have a house first. NO deed, NO house. Just you and your tax lien.

      • two_amber_lamps

         He probably runs an extension cord off of the Life Guard’s office to his cardboard box on the beach….  along with the wi-fi he pirates for free.

  • stanta

    I have to work how many f_in hours to afford 1 light bulb?

    • I H8 GOPers

       Only 3, if you buy them online, because President Obama raised the minimum wage for you.

      • Econwarrior

        Another lie; obama raised the minimum wage to line the pockets of his corrupt unionist cronies.

      • stanta

         Excuse me if I prefer to buy 6 incandescent for 5 bucks and buy groceries with the rest.

        • I H8 GOPers

           You should be talking to GOPers about choice, not me. Liberals love choice. Liberals = Liberty.

          Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the sponsor of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US.

          GOPers = you have to work for 3 hours to buy a bulb.

  • two_amber_lamps

    Runner-up for the “L” prize received $25M in gov’t subsidies….  

    http://www.shepherdsurvival.com/product_images/n/485/sterno_mini_candles__82729_zoom.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/Dakota_Mel Dakota_Mel

    I have a few LEDs in the house – because there are some lights that I just don’t like to change, like the ones really high up. I also drive a Prius because I hated put gas in my van twice a week in the winter when it was 40 below.(It bugs me when people assume I’m a lib when they see my car, but that’s another story.)

    Anyway, Steven Chu’s comment is absurd – Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs, known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.”

    The free market does it way better. People like me spending money on these things because we want to, not because we have to, and because they have a value we are willing to pay for is what spurs innovation.

    • Econwarrior

      And you should always get to make those choices, in a free country.

  • WOOF

    The bulbs are made in Wisconsin,
    Will save $100 over their lifetime.

    Incandescent bulbs will not be pried from
     cold dead hands .
    They’ll be buried with you.

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/11/442115/clean-energy-opponents-attack-super-efficient-light-bulb-because-the-washington-post-cant-do-math/

    • two_amber_lamps

      You want choice in tossing fetuses into the woodchipper but deprive us the choice of how to light our house?  Bolshevik….. I’ll buy an LED lightbulb when I’m good and ready to, and when the prices come down to the point where they’re competitive with incandescents,… hopefully they’re better than CFL’s and don’t require a haz-mat team in level 4 isolation suits to clean up if they break. But I don’t wanna buy them while they’re $30 gee-whiz and unproven. 5 years from now, maybe… and of course assuming they do what they’re billed to do.

      MY CHOICE…. just like you and grinding up fetuses… does this compute?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELDHaeEsNF0

    • Jfisher17

      Having a problem with folks choosing their own kinds of bulbs? 

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    What’s the cost of going blind because of inadequate lighting?  

    • two_amber_lamps

      Or insane because I can’t do detail work on my prized 1911 because that f’ing CFL flickers…

      • I H8 GOPers

         LEDs don’t flicker.

        • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

          Only wealthy obamamites can afford LED lamps.

        • two_amber_lamps

          I don’t have $30 laying around…  gimme!

    • stanta

       I bet you think you go blind doing something else too. Inadequate lighting does tire the eyes faster but only someone who hates science would still believe it makes you blind.

      • I H8 GOPers

         Have you ween Kevin’s palms? Harry Flanagan knows he won’t go blind from that, he’d already have a white cane with velcro on the handle.

  • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

    I had to replace a burned out incandescent bulb today. Threw the old one straight in the trash, without requiring a hazmat suit.Noticed what I had paid for the new bulb: 13.25 cents, plus tax.

    Thank God the government is saving us from ourselves! (Note to liberals: That was “sarcasm”.)

    • two_amber_lamps

      Threw the old one straight in the trash, without requiring a hazmat suit.

      The authorities have been duly notified… 

      Copy down this number:  #374936937682697  

      Present yourself to the transportation commissar at your local Amtrak station tomorrow morning at 0400.  Tell no one, bring warm clothes and a shovel.
       

    • I H8 GOPers

       LEDs don’t contain mercury. Sorry that you will be living on beans this week. By the way, Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the sponsor of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US.

      • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

         “LEDs don’t contain mercury.” Or lead, like your chew toys. I was singing the praise of the simple Edison light bulb. Too bad you weren’t bright enough (pun intended) to follow along.

      • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

         I know it’s hard to stop you when your knee starts jerking, but your assumption about beans is as valid as your assumption that I was making this partisan. Stupid can’t be fixed, no matter which party it supports, as you amply illustrate every time you comment.

      • Gern Blanston

        Oh – so a Republican sponsored the bill. That makes the conservative point on this void.  It is a criticism of liberals, not exclusively Democrats. It is the liberal behavior of too many Republicans in congress (particularly the Senate) that helped get Mr. Obama a spot in the White House.

        • Econwarrior

          Don’t be misled by the cherry-picked lies of liberal propagandists.  The bill was rammed through by the bullies in the Pelosi-Reid Congress.  2007 was the start of the economic decline, for the same reason.

          • I H8 GOPers

            Fred Upton, Republican-MI, was the SPONSOR of the legislation that banned 100W incandescent light bulbs from sale in the US.

  • http://www.inabuy.com/2012/01/hosting-termurah-tapi-tetap-unlimited.html Champed_03

    philips is the best lamp in this world , billions of people have used it, long life enduro is the reasons

  • RecklessProcess

    This story is a lie. The bulb that won the contest cost $24 at Homedepot. It is the 800 lumen 60 Watt replacement that runs at 12 Watts. Sure there is a $50 bulb but it is 1100 lumens and is the 75 Watt replacement that runs at 17 Watts so it would not have even been allowed in the contest. What the author has written is a lie.

    • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

      Cut him some slack.
      It’s what he does best.

    • Gern Blanston

      So is the $25.70 bulb Rob referenced on Amazon the $50 – 75 watt equivalent or the $24 – 60 watt equivalent?

  • $5205178

    I have roughly a 20 year supply of incandescent light bulbs of varying wattages and base designs. Bought ‘em all before the law went into effect.

    The fools that thought up this law and voted for it are so short sighted they need help to tie their shoes.

  • Obamapoop

    I have no problem with government incentives to promote competition but if they did that then why have the anti incandescent legislation in the first place? The reason seems obvious, because like Carbon Credits, it makes it a gauranteed payoff to crooked cronys. Why build a better product when you can mandate tax money into your coffers, kind of like Warren does.

  • Obamapoop

    JGH, yes cronys come in all colors.

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