In three more years, you literally will not be able to purchase a good old-fashioned light bulb any more. It'll be 100% twisty, pale CFL bulbs. Which, they now tell us, aren't as amazing as promised.

Utilities in California are laying out more than half a billion dollars to subsidize CFL purchases. They're not as pleased with their investment as they'd hoped. The WSJ reports:

When it set up its bulb program in 2006, PG&E Corp. thought its customers would buy 53 million compact fluorescent bulbs by 2008. It allotted $92 million for rebates, the most of any utility in the state. Researchers hired by the California Public Utilities Commission concluded earlier this year that fewer bulbs were sold, fewer were screwed in, and they saved less energy than PG&E anticipated.

One hitch was the compact-fluorescent burnout rate. When PG&E began its 2006-2008 program, it figured the useful life of each bulb would be 9.4 years. Now, with experience, it has cut the estimate to 6.3 years, which limits the energy savings.

Oh, now they tell us that these bulbs are a full third less effective than they thought. That's kind of significant! Although it still beats the average lifespan of an old-style light bulb, which was about ten days, if you shop at the 99-cent store. [WSJ]