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Fluorescents are out and LEDs in, if House-approved bill becomes law

In the dark of night, a bill dealing with light shone through.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Boe (R-Chaska), HF3230 would replace in state statute what kind of bulb is preferred for maximum energy efficiency. What once were fluorescent bulbs would now be light-emitting diode, or LED, lamps.

Passed 132-0 by the House late Saturday, it heads to the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound).

There was a time in which compact fluorescent bulbs were touted as the best way to save energy, and, consequently, help keep utility bills down. But disposal of such bulbs has always been problematic, with recent research underlining concerns that they release mercury into the waste stream and potentially wreak environmental havoc.

Now the industry standard for efficiency and environmental friendliness is the LED lamp, which lasts several times longer than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs and, according to a U.S. Energy Department study, have a lower impact than either incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs on air, soil and water, and use less energy.

What the bill would do is make a relatively small change in state energy policy. It contains a section that would require electric utilities to encourage customers to use efficient lighting sources, and it currently contains the promotion of “fluorescent and high-intensity discharge” lamps. That language would be stricken from statute and replaced with “LED.”

“This is a clean, easy, nonpartisan, non-controversial bill that seeks to update outdated statutory language,” Boe said. “Every year, we would spend a small fortune to dispose of those bulbs, which contained mercury, a potent neurotoxin. … All of the affected parties, including Xcel Energy, the Pollution Control Agency and all 87 counties, are in full support of this bill.”

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