Dave Rusk, retiring against his will, told me his job disappeared thanks to "a push from Congress." The 2007 energy bill included minimum efficiency standards for light bulbs - standards that the bulbs made in Winchester can't meet.
For now, compact fluorescents - the double-helix shaped bulbs that sell for $2 for a 100-watt equivalent - are the stand-in. GE Lighting spokeswoman Janice Fraser says light-emitting diode bulbs will be the true long-term replacement: most of GE Lighting's research and development goes into LEDs.
"When you see the enormous savings that can be achieved by more efficient lighting ... it's huge," said Fraser. But if the energy savings are big enough, and if the lifespan of the high-tech bulbs is as long as they say, then why should it take regulation to get people to buy them?
GE supported the regulations. Many Winchester workers, noting that the CFLs are made in China by lower-wage workers, say GE wanted to force the higher profit-margin bulbs on consumers, and Winchester is collateral damage.