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Chu: Not the Brightest Bulb in the Administration’s Lamp

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

During a recent committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) asked Energy Secretary Stephen Chu if he thought a $50 light bulb was “affordable” for American families.

“No, of course not,” Chu answered. 

Then why did Chu award $10 million to a company for winning a contest to design an “affordable” alternative to the ubiquitous 60 watt incandescent light bulb that would cost $50?


The Energy Departments “L-Prize” was the carrot offered to encourage manufacturers to come up with an “affordable” LED alternative to Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb.  There was only one entrant, Phillips Lighting.  The bulb they came up with retails for $50. 

Just for the record, at Home Depot you can buy a 4-pack of Phillips standard 60 watt bulbs for $1.47 – less than 37 cents per bulb.  For $50 you could get 136 regular 60 watt bulbs; enough to light up a neighborhood.

Why Chu believes light bulb manufacturers needed some incentive to make a product already mandated by the government is another question.   But, then this is the same Secretary and the same Energy Department that squandered half a billion on Solyndra, and thought that was a good idea, too. 

Chu might have a Nobel Prize in physics, but he obviously knows nothing about the family budget or the market place

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