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Obama's $50 light bulb: 'Too pricey'?
The winner of a $10 million government contest to develop a super-efficient light bulb is here. But will anybody want it?
 
Philips won the U.S. Department of Energy's L Prize with an LED bulb that is cost-efficient in the long run but destined to cause some sticker shock.
Philips won the U.S. Department of Energy's L Prize with an LED bulb that is cost-efficient in the long run but destined to cause some sticker shock.
Philips

The Obama administration announced last year that it would award $10 million to the company that could create a light bulb that was both eco-friendly and affordable. The winning LED bulb, made by Philips, is about to hit the market. There's only one problem: It costs $50. The price of your standard incandescent bulb, on the other hand, hovers in the $1 region. The $10 million award, dubbed the L Prize, is part of the government's plan to phase out all energy-wasting incandescent bulbs over the next several years. But could Obama's $50 light bulb possibly be worth its price?

No one will pay $50 for a light bulb: Retailers around the country say the innovation, which has become known as "the Cadillac" of light bulbs, is "too pricey to have broad appeal," says Peter Whoriskey at The Washington Post. Consumers will likely see it as a luxury item, especially since "similar LED bulbs are less than half the cost." How it won the L Prize is "one of the curiosities" that the country's mandated transition to energy-efficient bulbs has wrought.
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Actually, Philips' bulb is a huge cost-saver: Sure, $50 might sound expensive, says Merrill Goozner at The Fiscal Times. But LED bulbs "are one of the most cost-efficient investments consumers can make." Philips' bulb will last 10 years, and uses only 10 watts to produce the same amount of light as a 60-watt bulb. Over the course of a decade, consumers will shave more than $100 off the cost of their electricity bill. And for businesses, which have to hire workers to replace light bulbs, "the savings are dramatic."
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Either way, the Obama administration shouldn't be involved: "Ah yes, who knows more about efficiency than the federal government?" asks Don Surber at The Charleston Daily Mail. Government prizes aren't the way to encourage energy-efficient light bulbs. "One would think the marketplace would take care of that."
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