Winner of the $10 million government prize to replace the standard incandescent 60-watt bulb will be sold at retailers starting Earth Day 2012.

Dutch manufacturer Philips‘ new A19 LED will be sold at retailers around the country starting Sunday in honor of Earth Day. The bulb is the most-energy efficient A19 yet. It draws a mere 10-watts of power, provides 940 lumens, and is expected to last 30,000 hours, or 20 years based on 4 hours/day. The only dark spot for the bulb is it’s $60 price tag.

The high price reflects the cost of high-quality components and is definitely a barrier for widespread implementation. However, Philips is expected to offer a $10 discount for consumers and is looking to corroborate with utility companies for further rebates. Many utility companies around the country are currently offering rebates and incentive programs for switching to more energy-efficient LED and fluorescent lighting. This means the starting price of the Philips L Prize bulb will be anywhere from $20-$60, depending on where it’s purchased, as utilities currently do not subsidize online purchases.

Although it still seems like a relatively high price to replace a $1 incandescent, for $25, or $35, the bulb is cost effective in both energy savings and replacement costs. Comparatively, it saves $8 per year in energy consumption, and lasts 30 times longer at the same usage per day. That equates to roughly $190 in energy and replacement savings over the lifespan of one LED bulb.

The L Prize winner also has some considerable benefits over its CFL contemporaries. It lasts up to three times longer, and does not contain harmful toxic mercury vapor. It provides greatly improved durability versus glass casings and is dimmable, without warm-up time. Perhaps most notably, the color temperature of LED bulbs in general is much more natural and emits an effectively cleaner looking light.

Congress originally launched the L Prize contest in 2008, creating a $10 million manufacturer incentive to design and produce a LED light bulb to replace the standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. The requirements for consideration were very ambitious, requiring innovative product development. Philips was the only entrant, and was declared the winner after a year and a half of testing. This push for more efficient lighting technology is in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which set new standards for energy consumption relating to consumer products.

The legislation requires producers to manufacture new light bulbs that consume approximately 25% less energy, and sets a timeline for ceasing production and importation of old high-consumption incandescent lamps. The timeline was originally set to begin in January 2012, but in December 2011, the US House passed a final budget legislation, delaying implementation until October 2012. According to the timeline, 100-watt bulbs will be the first to cease production, followed by 75-watt bulbs in 2013, and 60- and 40-watt bulbs in 2014.

Continuing the government’s commitment to driving innovation and protecting the environment, the Department of Energy has recently announced the second phase of the L Prize, seeking to replace the common PAR38 flood lamp.

“The L Prize competition challenges the best and brightest engineers and scientists across America’s lighting industry to drive innovation in new, more efficient products and boost our nation’s competitiveness in manufacturing,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The winning products will help expand lighting choices for consumers, reduce our nation’s energy use, and save money for American families and business owners.”

For more information on the L Prize competition, including full specifications and requirements, please visit www.lightingprize.org.