Energy efficient bulbs could be mandatory

January 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
San Francisco is continuing its efforts to become the greenest city in the nation. On Tuesday, the Mayor introduced a proposal to require businesses to do away with energy inefficient fluorescent lights.

Mayor Gavin Newsom says San Francisco would become the first city in the nation to ban T-12 fluorescent light bulbs. All businesses in the city would have until the end of the year to replace them with T-8's, which are said to be 40 percent more energy efficient.

"This one initiative is the equivalent of removing 3,000 cars from our city streets or lighting up 7,200 residences over the course of the year," says Newsom.

640,000 lights in the city have already been converted. There are another 850,000 to go.

The city has $4 million dollars from a PG&E program to provide grants for 60 to 90 percent of the cost to help businesses meet the mandate.

Without the city money, having a crew come in and convert your lights would cost about $50 dollars per fixture.

At Ellis Brooks Chevrolet, three floors of the lights are coming out with a price tag of about $70,000 dollars. However, with the city rebate, the owner will pay $28,000.

"We looked sometime back about being a green business, and this is part of that plan," says Marie Brooks, Ellis Brooks Chevrolet.

Brooks does worry that a mandate will be yet another burden on small businesses.

Michael Eng changed the fluorescent bulbs at his Big Apple Market on Polk Street. He says the city paid 100 percent.

"It's very bright. We don't know if it will save us electricty. It's only been a month or so."

Other businesses should recoup out of pocket costs in energy savings in nine months or less. Those who don't comply would face unspecified fines, but the Mayor says the city is not going to become the "light police."