Incandescent Plant Closes – Jobs sent to China

GE Closes Last Incandescent Light Bulb Plant, Jobs Sent to China

Written By: Kenneth Artz

Publication date: 10/04/2010

Publisher: The Heartland Institute

General Electric has closed its last major factory making incandescent light bulbs in the United States, a victim of a 2007 law banning sale of the light bulbs by 2014. Environmental activist groups promised the restrictions would create green jobs, but workers at GE’s Winchester, Virginia plant are finding the law is merely creating red jobs overseas in China.

Cheaper in China
The 2007 law imposed energy efficiency requirements that cannot be met by traditional incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which are much more expensive than incandescent light bulbs, are the least expensive alternative. The manufacture of CFLs, however, is labor-intensive and too expensive to be done at U.S. wage rates.

GE could retrofit its Winchester plant to produce CFLs, but GE CFLs would be 50 percent more expensive than bulbs made in China with the benefit of cheap labor. Realizing it could not compete with such a cost disadvantage, GE is closing down its Winchester factory.

Two hundred workers at the Winchester plant are being put out to pasture during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Many others preceded them while CFLs gained increasing market share under the looming incandescent light bulb ban.

“Everybody’s jumping on the green bandwagon,” Pat Doyle, who worked at the Winchester plant for 26 years, told the Washington Post (September 8). But “we’ve been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE.”

“Environmental activists and their allies in Washington were either too ignorant of basic economics to see these job losses coming or they were simply too callous to really care,” explained Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr. “Either way, compact fluorescent light bulbs in the real world fail to live up to environmental promises, unnecessarily subject American households to toxic mercury, produce poor-quality light, and are sending American workers to the unemployment line.”

Job Losses Foreseeable
H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, says people should not be surprised by job losses caused by environmental mandates such as the ban on incandescent light bulbs.

“The claim that the unemployment caused by federal policies forcing CFL light bulbs on the public was an ‘unintended consequence’ would be laughable if the job losses weren’t so unfortunate,” explained Burnett. “They may have been unintended, but they were perfectly predictable. China has long dominated the CFL market, and even before Congress stepped in and basically banned incandescent light bulbs, manufacturing for CFLs was already moving overseas.”

Doubling down on the job-killing green mandates contained in the 2007 energy bill, “The Obama administration has repeatedly thrown billions of dollars in subsidies to ‘green technologies’ that can’t compete in the marketplace, are higher priced and thus aren’t chosen by most consumers when they vote with their pocketbooks, don’t function as well, and are manufactured overseas,” said Burnett.

Illusory Energy Savings
Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, pointed out banning incandescent light bulbs does not necessarily bring environmental benefits. In 1987 the town of Traer, Iowa handed out 18,000 free fluorescent bulbs to its residents in a demonstration project aimed at reducing power consumption, Kazman noted.  Residential electricity use actually rose by 8 percent, because people used more lights and kept them on longer, once they realized their lighting was cheaper.

“This is yet another demonstration that technologies that utilize energy more efficiently often result in more energy use rather than less, because the energy becomes more useful. When these technologies are developed in a free market, everyone gains. But when they’re forced on people by legal mandate, then the outcomes are somewhat different,” Kazman said.

He added, “Some people may be pleased, but many others are left dissatisfied, while reductions in energy consumption are far less than predicted and in some cases nonexistent.”

“If the new energy-saving technologies being pushed by government are really that good, then we don’t need government to mandate them.  And if they are being mandated, that’s a sure sign that they’re not very good,” Kazman observed.

Kenneth Artz ( writes from Dallas, Texas.

This entry was posted in Background. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Incandescent Plant Closes – Jobs sent to China

  1. Fascinating article. I know I’m a little late in posting my comment but the blog was to the point and just the information I was looking for. I can’t say that I agree with all you mentioned but it was definitely absorbing! BTW…I found your site through a Bing search. I’m a frequent visitor to your blog and will return again soon.

  2. Jon Carrow says:

    I landed here by mistake. When I did a search in Yahoo, your site was at number one yet isn’t about what I was looking for. Just wanted to write a message to say to you that I love the layout of your web site.

  3. RedMango says:

    Very nice post!

  4. admin says:

    Thank you. Good folks like you make the work worthwhile. We do try to keep it updated, as developments are progressing rapidly.

  5. badmash says:

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

  6. admin says:

    As more information comes in it will be posted. Thank you for your support and comments.

  7. Hi, please inform us when we could see a follow up!

  8. admin says:

    Hopefully, the new Congress will reverse or delay (as they did in Canada) the ban on incandescent bulbs.

  9. Hello, please tell us when we will see a follow up!

  10. admin says:

    According to Roger Currie of CKRM radio 620 in Regina, SK, the Canadian government has rolled back their incandescent ban until 2015. We need to encourage the U. S. legislators to do the same.

  11. Edda Rork says:

    Hi, I was just surfing the web and I stumbled to your homepage from another site. I read a few of your articles and think they were well written. Thanks, I will try to visit your blog soon.

  12. Take it from a professional webmaster. Your website surfaces all over the internet, you must be performing all the proper things. Developing such a popular internet site is not simple. Reckoned I would join in and link to you.

  13. admin says:

    Thank you. Please do link to

  14. This is actually my first time here, really good looking blog. I discovered a lot of fascinating stuff within your blog particularly it’s discussion. From all the comments on your articles, it appears like this is really a extremely popular website. Keep up the good work.

  15. I found your posting to be insightful! Thank you.

  16. Thank you for your thoughtful post!

  17. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  18. roofers lancaster pa says:

    Rarely do I encounter a weblog that’s both educated and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the issue is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I’m very satisfied that I stumbled throughout this in my quest for something relating to this.

  19. I like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon.

  20. That is a great point to bring up. Thanks for the post.

  21. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic however you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  22. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I’ve gone ahead and bookmarked on so i can get a few people to drop in as well. Anyway i like the post “Incandescent Plant Closes – Jobs sent to China | CFL Impact” I just used it as the entry title in my bookmark, Cheers!.

  24. admin says:

    Is there an attorney who would be interested in considering a case against CFL manufacturers?

  25. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  26. Thanks for spending the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you grow to be an expert, would you mind updating your weblog with more details?

  27. ul labels says:

    I have to check with you here, which is not something I often do! I enjoy studying a website that can make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  28. admin says:

    Thank you for your comment. Seeing your “hotels hershey pa” tag, you might want to check the heading, in the Recent Articles column. Weber’s Inn, in Ann Arbor, MI, has chosen to be CFL-free. This makes them a safe hotel for travelers. Please also see the post on the Irlen Institute study which inidcates that ~26% of the population is impacted by fluorescent lights. With a single supplier manufacturing 1,500,000 CFLs per day, the CFL is definitely the most-utilized fluorescent.

  29. admin says:

    Sorry, but we do not have such set up on our end. Could it be something on your end?

  30. AKO says:

    Its pretty interesting that the mainstream media has changed the way it looks at this recently dont you think? What once seemed like a never discussed issue has become more prevelant. Overall though Im looking for a change.

  31. I stumbled in your internet site by chance even while shopping Yahoo and i am glad I did. Your publish may be a bit diverse and I enjoyed looking through it. I will consequently produce a comment about this on my web page and position my customers your way. Thank you.

  32. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  33. More people need to read this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant believe you’re not more popular.

  34. Hello My name is Catherine, I’m french and I work in the city of Avignon for Cie Rencontre. I like your point of view, your article is really intersting. That’s not cool for me cause I don’t speak so much english (I’m a french girl) and so I could not explain very good my opinion. Anyway continue your very important blog.Best regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *