T12 Fluorescent Bulb Phase Out: How Much Time Do I Have Left?




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Linda asks: I have heard that T-12 ballasts will be unavailable after July 2010 and that the govt is encouraging businesses to replace these with more efficient options. I would like to swap out our old ballasts at our facility in Virginia but I’m wondering if there are programs that will help me with the costs associated with this. I lease my space, pay my electric and have another five years to go, so I know I’ll have to do it sooner or later.

Credit: NAVFAC

Credit: NAVFAC


Hi Linda, thanks for your question on efficient lighting replacement options for old T-12 ballasts. It’s true that as of July 1, 2010, the Department of Energy will prohibit the manufacture of T-12 magnetic ballasts solely for replacement purposes. This is part of a multi-step phase-out process for the T-12 ballasts that began in 2005.

On the bright side, this is the perfect time to upgrade your facility’s lighting to a more efficient system. According to the Energy Cost Savings Council, energy-efficient lighting projects generate an average 45% return on investment, paying for themselves in just 2.2 years, which is a pretty good ROI with 5 years left on your lease.

There is also Federal assistance available per the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction is a provision in EPACT 2005 which allows building owners or tenants to write off the cost of upgrading a building’s existing lighting or other building systems for more energy efficient systems, capped at $1.80 per square foot. If you are only upgrading one system, such as lighting, the tax deduction is capped at $0.60/SF, and the actual amount of the deduction is determined by the reduction below the maximum allowable lighting power density in ASHRAE 90.1-2001. If you’d like to know more about this tax deduction, go here. http://www.lightingtaxdeduction.org/tax_deduction.html

The Energy Independence Act of 2007 (EISA) recently extended this tax deduction for qualifying projects completed before January 1, 2014.

There may also be State and Utility incentives to help fund your project. For Virginia, there is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing available, which is essentially a loan repaid via a special assessment on the property. This is more for building owners, but may be something you can work out with the building owner. For more information on PACE, go here.http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=VA20F&re…

I’m not sure who your utility provider is, but I see that Dominion Virginia Power has a Utility Rebate Program for commercial buildings. For more information on this rebate, go here.http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=VA37F&re…

As National Lighting Bureau Vice Chair Susan Bloom said, “Very simply, there has never been a better time for end users to capitalize on their lighting upgrade opportunities.” I hope this information helped. Good luck on your lighting upgrade!