President Obama and General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt toured the facility of an LED manufacturer (Cree Inc.) in Durham, North Carolina this week. And, of course, Obama discussed the job creation benefits of energy efficiency policies and put a strong emphasis on young Americans pursuing degrees in the “hard sciences” and leading us forward in the cleantech industry.
“I want the pocket protector to be the new sex appeal,” Obama said in North Carolina.
“I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers security. I won’t be satisfied until the empty storefronts in town are open for business again. I won’t be satisfied until working families feel like they’re moving forward again, that they’re progressing again.”
The LED light bulbs Cree makes are “75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 years,” Jim Presswood of the NRDC writes.
Cree is a poster child for the benefits of the federal energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. The standards were enacted by Congress in 2007 with bipartisan support and signed by President George W. Bush. These standards are creating new markets for high efficiency bulbs such as the LEDs made by Cree, as well as new advanced incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Cree recently opened a new LED manufacturing line in Durham and has hired over 700 people there since 2009.
While many want to see a dramatic decrease in unemployment, the simple fact that a Tea-Party-crazy Congress is blocking any large-scale investments or a carbon pricing program necessary to get such a decrease going, it is these little steps we must rely on to crawl out of the economic recession we fell into during the Bush administration.
In the case of light bulbs, the law requiring light bulbs use 25-30% less energy by next year are creating jobs in various locations as companies find ways to make incandescent light bulbs much more efficient or develop CFL or LED light bulbs.
According to an NRDC analysis, the light bulb efficiency standards will eventually (when fully implemented):
- Save each American household $100 to $200 per year in the form of lower electric bills.
- Reduce U.S. energy bills overall by more than $10 billion per year.
- Achieve energy savings equivalent to the electricity production of 30 large power plants.
- Avoid approximately 100 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 17 million cars.
If that’s not enough, as Obama is right in highlighting the job-creation benefits of such standards. As NRDC also notes:
- Osram Sylvania has retooled its current St. Marys, Pennsylvania incandescent factory to produce new energy saving incandescent bulbs that will meet the standards.
- Several thousand U.S. jobs have been created by companies like Cree in North Carolina, Lighting Sciences Group Corp in Florida, and Philips Lighting (the world’s biggest lighting company) to produce the next generation of efficient LED light bulbs.
- In 2011, TCP—one of the world’s largest makers of CFLs—is opening a new factory in Ohio to help meet the new demand.
- GE recently invested $60 million to create a Global Center of Excellence for linear fluorescent lamp manufacturing in Bucyrus, Ohio—an action that will double the number of jobs at that plant.
Green jobs are being created everyday, and will continue to be created as long as Obama holds office, no doubt about it!
Photo Credit: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images via LA Times