News - Advocacy
You don’t need to spend a great of time deal in the policy world before you hear a conversation about workforce development. In fact, the Energy Upgrade California incentive program was originally created as a workforce development solution. Flashback to 2008, the Great Recession: contractors were out of work and the economy was in a downward spiral. The incoming Obama administration designed a program to stimulate the economy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law February of 2009 and was intended to save existing jobs and create new ones. Lots of ARRA funds flowed into the energy efficiency industry and hopes were bright.
As the market for energy efficient buildings has grown, so has the need to measure and rate the effectiveness of upgrades and new home efficiency measures. Regulators, programs, and industry groups have come up with a number of rating systems to help inspect, calculate and compare a home’s energy performance.
Over the years, these models have become more and more complicated. The industry standard measure, Home Energy Rating System (HERS)—Whole House, not Compliance—currently requires hundreds of extremely detailed data points that use very expensive and sophisticated test equipment and it must be completed by a certified HERS whole home energy rater.
Recently, California has made great progress in setting and charting a course toward ambitious energy and climate goals. There is, however, one huge regulatory and political roadblock that’s creating a barrier to achieving greater savings by blocking one of our most promising technologies: heat pumps.
PG&E has sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to create a residential pay-for-performance (P4P) pilot incentive program for energy efficiency. Given the frequent changes and updates in efficiency rebate programs over the years, it could be tempting to easily dismiss this as just more of the same. In reality though, this new pilot is much more significant than you might realize. If you’re a contractor you need to pay attention--because this pilot could mark a real turning point for the industry.
As a contractor it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day operations and not give much thought to rebate programs other than what paperwork is currently required. For better or worse, these programs have become a fact of life. However, there are some real and significant changes happening in the energy efficiency industry today that have the potential to dramatically affect your business.
We are in a push to build membership. Recently I stopped to ask myself what is the message we need to send in order to get folks to join? To answer the question I stepped back and asked myself “world how did I get here?” to quote the Talking Heads. Specifically, what was the path I had followed and how did I find myself in my current position as Executive Director of Efficiency First California.
As a trade organization, there is a reasonable expectation that we will be involved in Advocacy efforts as a part of our commitment to our members. In our world, the things happening in Washington that affect the entire country are covered by Efficiency First National. Currently, these include Federal tax credits, the Clean Power Plan, and new OSHA regulations. For policies that are California specific we, Efficiency First California, are the responsible party.
With over 40% of the country's energy being used by commercial and residential buildings, there is no question we need to make our buildings more efficient. Improving energy efficiency in new construction is relatively easy, just modify the building code to mandate improvements. In existing buildings things get harder. Energy savings in commercial buildings is demanding but effective. The real challenge is the existing residential sector, arguably the most difficult and important piece of the puzzle due to the sheer number of homes built before 1978 when energy codes were created.
As many of you are aware it’s hard to shoot a moving target. Since its inception the Energy Upgrade California (EUC) rebate program has been a moving target. This can be challenging for participating contractors as they must constantly stay abreast of the changes and incorporate them into their workflow. Why is this the case and what can we do about it?
- 1 of 2