HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Not the Brightest Idea

Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:54am

Not to alarm anyone, but there seems to be a light bulb issue on Capitol Hill.

On Aug. 4, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer sent out a press release tooting its own horn for making all sorts of energy-saving changes on the House side of the Capitol complex.

Among these switcheroos? About 30,000 light fixtures got low-energy bulbs in 2010. The lighting switch and other efficiency measures have saved taxpayers much money, according to the statement. It’s unclear how much exactly, but enough that the CAO passed the energy-saving baton to the Architect of the Capitol to extend the savings across the whole Capitol complex.

On Wednesday, however, the website Talking Points Memo reported that the AOC is now changing the light bulbs in the Cannon House Office Building back to the inefficient kind “because an unknown Member of Congress complained.”

Apparently, the anonymous Member was always complaining that the Cannon hallways were “too dim for his liking,” a source close to the great light bulb switch-out of 2011 told TPM. (HOH was able confirm that the complainer is a male Member.)

“[T]he lighting levels were identified as inadequate in the hallway,” AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki tells HOH in an email. “As an interim measure, the light bulbs were swapped out temporarily. They will be replaced by LED light bulbs, which are even more energy efficient than CFLs.”

(The LEDs are brighter than the CFLs, HOH is happy to report. Sadly, however, they are more expensive.)

So to sum up: All the light bulbs on the House side of the Capitol have been changed to energy-efficient bulbs. But now the light bulbs in at least one building will be changed back to the less-efficient ones because a Member complained. This is OK because they will be changed once again to energy-efficient light bulbs that are brighter.

According to an HOH spy, the great light bulb switch-out of 2011 is not going to be quick process.

“It’s taking them three days, actually more,” our spy tells us. “They’ve only done one floor per day.”

“I can’t imagine that switching in temporary bulbs is cost effective,” the spy continues.

No word on what will be done with the discarded bulbs. On the plus side, however, the great light bulb switch-out of 2011 does create work in the midst of a serious jobs crisis, so there’s that.