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Standards Update Q4 2011

Created 2/8/2012 by David Cohan
Updated 2/8/2012 by David Cohan
78 views • 6 comments
Gives an update of happenings in federal and state standards.
Posted By: David Cohan 02/08/12 on 09:38 AM (Pacific Time)
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Comments (6)
Fred Gordon on 02/08/12 on 12:34 PM (Pacific Time)
Is the ballast standard pretty firm?  If so, we could use a description of the level, and the implicit equipment, to help us with planning our future lighting program.  A standard in mid-2014 means that we'll probably change our program baselines in 2015.  That seems like a long way off, but as we plan to adjust for the bulb standard, knowing where ballasts are going will help.  We can probably find a cost-effective measure retrofitting from a compliant T-12 lamp and mag ballast to a high performance T-8 bulb and ballast.  Maybe so if the ballast baseline moves up to 700 series T-8.  However if all ballasts will become high performance T-8, we may be out of cost-effective one-to-one options for most stick fluorescent retrofit.

Also- it sounds like the rare earth argument is about to vaporize because the WTO told China to stop export tariffs on similar items- but it's unclear how quickly things will change.   Any sense of whether the rare earth price bubble is 2 months, 6 or 15?
Charlie Stephens on 02/08/12 on 02:23 PM (Pacific Time)
Fred,
The ballast standard is a Final Rule, so very firm. The new standards go into effect on November 14th, 2014. They are in the form of an equation, with  a different set of coefficients for each of the seven classes. Here is a summary of those standards:

1. For instant start & rapid start ballasts for 4-ft medium bipin (mbp), 2-ft u-shaped & 8-ft slimline lamps:  5.7% improvement.
2. For programmed start ballasts for 4-ft mbp, 2-ft u-shaped, 4-ft miniature bipin std output & 4-ft miniature bipin HO lamps: 10.8% improvement
3. For Instant and rapid start ballasts (that are not sign ballasts) for 8-ft HO lamps: 26.5% improvement
4. For programmed start ballasts (that are not sign ballasts) for 8-ft HO lamps: 26.2% improvement
5. For sign ballasts that operate 8-ft HO lamps: 15.1% improvement
6. For instant and rapid start residential ballasts for 4-ft mbp, 2-ft u-shaped & 8-ft slimline lamps: 7.2% improvement
7. For programmed start residential ballasts for 4-ft mbp & 2-ft u-shaped lamps: 5.8% improvement

The new lamp standards that go into effect in July of this year, if DOE's Office of Hearings & Appeals does NOT grant any kind of delay in response to NEMA's petition, would add their own savings to these. It's actually a bit worse than additive, as the required ballast efficiency goes down ever so slightly as lamp arc power goes down. Let me know if you think I should post the actual standards.
Charlie Stephens on 02/08/12 on 02:32 PM (Pacific Time)
Fred,
Almost forgot about the rare earth comment and question. As you may have read, the WTO decision technically doesn't apply to the rare earth elements used in fluorescent lamps (Yttrium, Europium and Terbium), so China may or may not relax its hold on the supplies of these. There is no word yet from China specifically with regard to these materials. The price bubble is not likely to be temporary. While there are a few other places where these three particular rare earth minerals could be mined, all of them have costs substantially above those incurred by Chinese producers. This means that the Chinese could put any of them out of business simply by temporarily lowering prices below the cost of production elsewhere. Would-be investors in such new capacity know this, and so have been understandably reluctant to invest until something shakes out in China. At the bottom of this is the Chinese desire (and intent) to manufacture and export finished goods, not raw materials. Understandable, since that's where the big money is. So I expect lamp prices to stay high, and the more efficient lamps to get more expensive yet. That being said, the Chinese also have to play this carefully, because if they drive the market toward solid-state lighting prematurely due to the rapidly escalating cost of fluorescent systems, they'll be cutting their own economic throats to some extent. SSL products use way less in the way of rare earth materials. So hang in there - no one knows exactly how this will play out, though everyone seems to want to know. CMS
Fred Gordon on 02/08/12 on 03:14 PM (Pacific Time)
Thanks, Charlie- I think the next job for program designers re: ballast standards is to see, given current equipment offerings, what ballasts the standard bumps us to- is it generally to 700 series T-8 or high performance?  That may help determine what remaining one for one program optoins exist.  In any event, the remaining savings is a fraction of what we're booking now, so we'll need to refocus on more controls and good design, and see what the good ship SSL brings us in a few years.   I think we have to move past one-for-one or programs are gong to really shrink.

Appreciate perspective on rare earths.   Forecast:  partly cloudy except for sun. Might rain unless the wind blows..
Charlie Stephens on 02/09/12 on 10:09 AM (Pacific Time)
Well, Fred, this is just my personal opinion, because we really don't know yet how the manufacturers will respond to the new standards. They make ballasts that comply now, but they tend to be the most efficient they make at present. The increment of efficiency for lighting system replacement programs isn't the increment between the old T8 and the new T8 systems (lamp and ballast). It's the increment between T12 systems and something else. I've heard a lot of people argue that T12s are dead, but I see them virtually everywhere I go. There is still a large enough stock of those systems in service that the lamp manufacturers are doing some fairly desperate things to keep making the T12 lamps. I've yet to go to a farm or ranch type facility and see T8s. They're almost all 8-ft T12 systems, with magnetic ballasts. The same holds true with Class B and C office and light industrial space, and a lot of lower-end retail. It's long past time to put a bounty on these things and get them out of there. If we don't, we'll end up with exempt lamps (like GE's Reveal line) filling all of the fixtures. This means that the program options for new construction won't involve fluorescent technologies - we'll move to SSL. But for existing buildings, I don't think the T12 removal potential is anywhere near exhausted.
Fred Gordon on 02/09/12 on 10:56 AM (Pacific Time)
The best lousy data we have for Energy Trust is that T-12's were about 20% of the lighting stock a couple of years ago, and it's gone down a lot since then.   I think that's still millions of square feet, so we see a lot.    But we might be working mostly on the small or particularly reticent customers at this point.  Even though we've kept our annual savings up, our annual job size has gone way down, and our number of jobs has gone way up.   So we have a lot more to do, hard work,  for a few years.   We were pushing volume for a few more years than some places, so parts of the NW may have more to do.  
ET is also assuming that the new lamp standard will bring us compliant T-12 lamps where there are now T-12's.  So, there's probably still a retrofit measure taking them to HPT8's and its probably still cost-effective- just most of our current cost and much less savings.    We assume that over eight years or so, all the old T-12 lamps will go, and be replaced by compliant T-8 lamps, and that accelerating the inevitable is not our highest priority.  Our priority is pushing people past those bulbs. 

As the ballast standard kicks in, we'll see whether it pushes the remainder to T-8's.   It will take many years for the remaining T-12 ballasts to all fail, but the economics of accelerating the inevitable are not that good if you face them squarely.  It's better to push people to the next thing.

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