The Washington Postreports today that the last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent lightbulbs is closing this month, "marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s."
A 2007 energy bill passed by Congress set standards that essentially will ban all ordinary incandescents by 2014. The factory's 200 workers will now be out of a job as the product they've produced for decades has been deemed "wasteful." The replacement for these bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs, most of which are produced overseas:
Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.
Consisting of glass tubes twisted into a spiral, they require more hand labor, which is cheaper there. So though they were first developed by American engineers in the 1970s, none of the major brands make CFLs in the United States.
"Everybody's jumping on the green bandwagon," said Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But "we've been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE. "