activists offended by the public’s presumed wastefulness … joined forces with the big bulb producers, who had an interest in replacing low-margin commodities with high-margin specialty wares
Maybe–she even quotes a spokesperson for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association boasting that the whole initiative was industry led. But if so, the market may already be competing away the rents. Home Depot offers Phillips new EcoVantage standard-meeting incandescents at a price of $2.99 for a two-pack, considerably cheaper than CFLs and LEDs. Of course that’s around twice the price of traditional incandescents at my grocery store, so they’re not exactly cheap. (And of course I’m only considering up-front cost, since I don’t have data on energy savings and longevity for these new bulbs.)
Postrel also makes a good argument for why this policy is a lousy way to save energy. From my perspective, the only legitimate reason for mandating energy savings is one argued by Ed Darrell in my previous post on this subject: because we get most of our power from coal, and coal creates a lot of mercury pollution and is leading to the http://www.coal-is-dirty.com/files/images/blogentry/mountaintop%20mining%20coal.jpg” target=”_blank”>flattening out of the Mountain State. I have no trouble getting on board with that, but a good goal does not automatically create good policy.
Still, I’ll come out of this all right–I can afford lightbulbs, even at rent-seeking prices, and the choice of light bulbs or milk for my kids isn’t an issue in my house.