RICHMOND -- The inventor of a light bulb that purportedly can burn for a lifetime has a chance for a $1 million-plus contract with the state, which is satisfied his idea is as bright as he claims.

Chris Goad who moved back here from Tappahannock, Va., last March, said his light bulb -- "The Enterpriser" -- will last 20 years if used continuously and a lifetime if turned on and off in normal fashion.

"It's the ultimate invention," Chris Goad, 30, said of the bulb. "The public is sick and tired of changing light bulbs every time they turn around."

"We've been very satisfied," said Ed Gillikin, manager of specifications and quality control for the state Division of Purchases and Supply.

The key to Goad's invention is a tiny, pill-shaped metal diode attached to the bottom of the bulb that changes alternating current entering the bulb into direct current. That cuts power to the bulb nearly in half and significantly increases its life.

In a 6 1/2-month test, 120 of Goad's bulbs burned between 12 and 18 hours each day, some of them in a downtown parking deck that usually consumes 25 bulbs a week. The replacement cost for each standard bulb, figuring the price of bulb and staff time, is about $3.25, Gillikin said.

"We know we're going to be saving money, because we won't be sending someone over there to change those 25 bulbs," Gillikin said.