CFLs: Good Green or Utility Greenwash?

Will the last person to leave California please turn off the energy efficient lights? TURN exposes utility mismanagement of energy efficiency programs—California consumers subsidize energy-efficient lightbulbs for the entire US while PG&E, Edison & SDG&E demand customers pay even more for CFL programs.

Energy Efficient BulbsEnergy efficient light bulbs subsidized through California electric bills are being resold for profit in a cottage industry in CFL sales. A program funded by customers permits PG&E, SDG&E and SoCal Edison to sell the bulbs at a discount. The reduced-cost CFLs are supposed to conserve energy and reduce our state’s need for expensive new power plants. But utility greed and mismanagement have resulted in the bulbs being sold out-of-state, providing little direct benefit to the consumers who pay for the discount.

TURN recently purchased on eBay CFLs marked with discount stickers from Edison, SDG&E and PG&E, and also found the bulbs for sale in stores in Nevada. The eBay bulbs can be shipped to anywhere in the US or Canada, and are available from numerous sellers.

Energy-efficient bulbs resold on EBay“This isn’t just double dipping, its quadruple dipping,” said TURN executive director Bob Finkelstein. “PG&E, SDG&E and SoCal Edison are:

  • charging customers for the administrative costs of the program,
  • charging customers for the incentives they’re going to claim for handing out all of these CFLs, and
  • charging customers for the excess energy they will need for incandescent bulbs that were not replaced with CFLs.

Consumer-subsidized bulbs resold on EBay

At the same time, resellers are turning a tidy profit off of customers’ investment.” Finkelstein accused PG&E, SDG&E and Edison of getting rid of the CFLs any way they could in order to claim rewards for successful efficiency programs. “It’s another corporate greenwash,” he said. “Despite the bragging PG&E, SDG&E and Edison do about their environmental efforts, the green they care most about is not the environment, it’s money.”

Another Greenwash From California’s Utility Companies

Energy-saving bulbs subsidized by California being sold on eBay

Bulbs meant for California now on eBay