Our Innovative Green Lightbulbs Are Made in China

Innovation costs US yet more factory jobs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2010 12:38 PM CDT
Our Innovative Green Lightbulbs Are Made in China
In this April 29, 2008 file photo, a display of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs is seen at Ritters True Value Hardware in Mechanicsburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

The Obama administration often argues that promoting green technologies will create new American jobs, but tell that to the 200 guys still working at GE’s last major incandescent light bulb factory in Virginia. The factory is closing this month, thanks to a 2007 law essentially outlawing the old-fashioned bulbs. The efficient CFLs that will replace them were invented here in the 1970s, but are largely produced in China, the Washington Post reports.

“We’ve been sold out,” says one 26-year veteran of the Virginia plant. “First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE.” The current CFL design was perfected by Ellis Yan, a Chinese immigrant to the US, in the 1990s. But because they’re more labor-intensive than traditional bulbs, Yan decided to manufacture them overseas—and most manufacturers have followed suit. Still, Yan hopes to open a US plant someday. “Retailers tell me people ask for ‘Made in the USA,’” he says. (Read more compact fluorescent bulbs stories.)

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