It's the dark side of the energy efficient light bulb boom. At General Electric Co., it means 3,000 jobs have been changed or eliminated as the company restructures its lighting business to meet the growing demand for compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, which are replacing Thomas Edison's outdated incandescents at a faster pace now that consumers are awakening to the advantages to the environment and their budgets.
The energy and energy bill benefits to consumers are little consolation to those whose jobs are being eliminated in Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
In some ways, the story is reflective of changes that can be expected in the economy as not only energy efficiency, but new energy technology, grow in importance. Some jobs will be lost, as companies stop manufacturing older technology that is outdated in the new highly efficient, low-carbon economy. But new technology is being developed, and will be manufactured.
Look at GE, which is cutting jobs at incandescent bulb manufacturing plants in Brazil and the U.S., while investing $200 million in new research and development over four years in Louisville, KY, the home of its Consumer & Industrial division, and related facilities. (At the same time, it's signaled it will buy many of the parts that go into a lightbulb, rather than manufacturing them, which reflects a continued shift to cheap off-shore manufacturing, often in China.)
Jim Campbell, called the job loss both "very difficult" and "one of the most important things we've done in the 100-plus-year history of GE's lighting business."
Difficult and historically important. Those will be common factors in the transformation in the economy over the next decade or so, as government and industry take to heart concerns about global warming, and look to change their businesses accordingly.
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