Argentina Bans Incandescent Bulb Imports, Gives Stores Five Months to Clear Inventories

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BUENOS AIRES--Argentina Jan. 1 implemented on schedule a ban on the importation of incandescent light bulbs, but gave stores five more months, until May 31, to clear their inventories of lamps made or imported before Dec. 31, 2010.

In the decree issuing the implementing regulations for a 2-year-old law banning importation and sale of incandescent lamps, the government excluded small bulbs of 25 watts or less that provide the interior lighting of refrigerators, microwave ovens, and other devices, saying the cost of forcing appliance makers to make the necessary changes would trump the energy-saving benefit.

Under Law 26473, both the importation and sale of the traditional lamps were to be discontinued on New Year's Day, but implementing regulation Decree 2060/2010 gave retailers and wholesalers a little more time to liquidate existing stocks.

The move is complemented by a plan launched in 2008 to distribute 25 million energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) free of charge, supported by a $15 million grant from the World Bank's Global Environment Facility. (See related story; 217 WCCR, 11/4/08.)

25 Million Bulbs to Be Provided

An Energy Secretariat spokesman Jan. 3 said most of the 25 million bulbs have been already handed out. The plan contemplates providing two free bulbs per household in exchange for two incandescent lamps that are destroyed on the spot, as well as replacing all lighting in public buildings.

“The light bulbs ban is a significant energy efficiency decision that will allow all Argentines to save energy and use it in a more responsible fashion,” Greenpeace Argentina said in a statement.

The Secretariat estimates that by year's end, total electricity consumption will drop from the current 5,500 megawatt-hours to 3,000 MWh, whereas without the ban and the bulb swap, energy use would be hitting nearly 8,000 MWh by the end of the year.

The move is part of a package of electricity-saving measures aimed at helping the country cope with higher energy demand and costs while helping preserve the environment. Other recent energy-saving measures in the plan include limiting air conditioning use and nighttime lighting in public offices.

Law 26473 does not ban production, which means local manufacturers can continue with output for export purposes.

By David Haskel