GE incandescent bulb factory goes dark

Packages of General Electric light bulbs are displayed on a hardware store shelf in San Rafael, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: The lights are going out this week -- literally -- in Winchester, Va., at General Electric's last big U.S. factory making incandescent bulbs. The lighting that Americans have used for the past century has been mandated out of existence within the next few years, and GE is moving manufacturing for next-generation CFL -- or compact fluorescent light bulbs -- to China.

Here's Marketplace's senior business correspondent Bob Moon.


BOB MOON: GE's founder once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration." That may be what Thomas Edison put into his first electric light bulb, but today he'd need to factor in legislation, because of what happens by 2014.

DAVID KREUTZER: Incandescent lights will essentially be illegal. They won't meet minimum efficiency requirements.

David Kreutzer is energy policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He says the fate of 200 GE workers now losing their jobs was sealed three years ago when President Bush signed a new energy law. GE says demand is already down by half, and that retrofitting to make the new bulbs is too costly.

President Obama insists "green jobs" are the future of America, and last month blamed "some in Congress" for not "getting rid of tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They should have to explain why they think these clean energy jobs are better off being made in Germany or China or Spain.

Kreutzer says it has more to do with the added labor to make those twisty bulbs being cheaper overseas. He argues it's proof that "being green" isn't going to be easy for American workers.

KREUTZER: It's no big surprise to me and most economists, but the truth now comes out.

Proponents argue the new bulbs are not only more energy efficient, but last longer.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...