Thursday, August 7, 2008

Technology from PureSpectrum, Inc. Addresses the Hidden Cost of Using CFL Bulbs

PRNewswire-FirstCall -- There is a looming concern with brand name Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs, and PureSpectrum, Inc. (Pink Sheets: PSPM) is one of a handful of lighting technology companies engineering to directly address the problem.

According to James Wasserman of The Energy Consortium of Minneapolis, Minn., low Power Factor CFL bulbs could become a crucial issue for residential energy consumers and providers as incandescent bulbs are phased out during the next few years in accordance with the Energy Bill of 2007. Low Power Factor results in harmonic distortion and reduces power quality, and this energy imbalance could lead to extensive and expensive corrective actions by utility companies.

High Power Factor standards have been set for linear fluorescent lighting in commercial and industrial settings, but Power Factor standards have not been elevated for the residential sector. Wasserman, a consultant and program manager for a utility company in Minnesota, expects that a power factor correction penalty could be added to residential energy bills in the future to offset the "dirty" or unproductive power created by the influx of millions of low Power Factor CFL bulbs. While this additional line item may surprise unsuspecting consumers, it would mean additional revenue for the utility companies.

A perfect Power Factor rating is 1.0, and PureSpectrum's dimmable CFL ballast technology rated .974 in independent testing performed at a NVLAP-certified facility at the request of multiple prospective licensing partners. For a lighting manufacturer to achieve high Power Factor for an existing ballast design would require circuitry modifications and additional components, but high Power Factor is an inherent performance characteristic for all of PureSpectrum's ballast circuitry designs.

"We analyzed the costing model being used by utilities in commercial and industrial settings and recognized immediately that a similar model will be necessary in the residential sector once there is a massive influx of CFL bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs," said PureSpectrum president and CEO Lee Vanatta, who also said PureSpectrum is designing a full product line of dimmable high Power Factor CFL bulbs. "As utility companies and lighting manufacturers have begun to digest the scope of the transition that is beginning to occur, they are realizing the importance of high Power Factor and the ripples this issue will cause. PureSpectrum has consistently approached the development of our technology from a universal perspective in the sense that we have created technology to satisfy the needs of manufacturers, end users and energy providers."

There has never been a definitive study of the effects of low Power Factor CFL bulbs on energy usage in the U.S., but recent research in New Zealand concluded that Power Factor correction could cost utilities as much as $4 million for every million low Power Factor CFL bulbs installed. With a variety of CFL bulbs with varying Power Factor ratings replacing incandescent bulbs industry, experts have yet to predict the total effect low Power Factor CFL bulbs will have on power quality in the U.S. but the cost will ultimately be passed on to the consumer.

"It is important that a definitive study be performed within the industry to insure that we know what will happen to power quality across the grid as millions upon millions of (low Power Factor) CFL bulbs are introduced," Wasserman said. "We're not sure how big the issue will become, but we know that it could be problematic."

The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star program currently only requires a Power Factor of .5 or higher to gain approval, while standards for electronic ballasts set by the American National Standards Institute and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association recommend a of .9 or greater for Power Factor. Because the Energy Star threshold is substantially lower, millions of low Power Factor CFL bulbs are being purchased by uninformed consumers to replace incandescent bulbs.

"While there is no data that declares that a massive influx of low Power Factor CFL bulbs will have a negative impact on power quality in the U.S., we believe this issue will become extremely important during the next five years," Vanatta said. "We know our technology provides a cost effective solution to this potential problem, and we plan to work closely with utility companies to develop a more complete understanding of this issue."

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