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Advocacy Update – March 2020: The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis
The global pandemic has turned our world on its head. I recently spoke to several Building Performance contractors to understand how this crisis has impacted them. Many have been forced to lay off or furlough employees. Some of the larger players are using the opportunity to educate their crews. Most are uncertain, at best, as the crisis unfolds.
Here are some things to remember:
1. In California, construction trades are considered an essential business, which means contractors can continue to work. Pay attention to any notices you might receive as this may change. Last week NY changed their classification in light of the situation they are experiencing. Contractors now face a $10k fine if they continue their operations.
2. If you can afford to keep your employees, this is a great time to educate your crews via online training. PG&E is a great place to start as they have a wide variety of offerings. We suggest checking their online learning centers for a list of classes. To help out, we are compiling a list of available online courses. The list is still in the works, but we do have several options for you to consider. Shoot us an email if you want to see what we have so far.
3. BPI is extending deadlines for recertifications. They are also working on getting more sessions online that count as CEUs.
4. What about the stimulus package? We have a resource in Washington that is working on getting accurate information regarding the stimulus package and how it will apply to our industry. We should have some more information on how this might apply to your situation by the end of the week. We will let you know as soon as we get more details.
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has touched practically every person on the planet in some way. Stay at home requests and quarantines have changed the workplace for most folks. You might think that policy efforts have ground to a halt in California, but that is not the case.
Many of the stakeholders in policy conversations have experience working remotely, which means the policy impacts of the pandemic are not as destabilizing as they might be in other industries. There might be fewer in-person meetings, and the progress may slow down, but the efforts and commitment have not slowed down. Many regularly scheduled meetings have shifted to online presentations, or conference calls, but the good news is policy work, and legislative efforts are still moving ahead, albeit at a slower pace than before the crisis.
The money is starting to flow. Statewide funding is rolling out to support electrification and the adoption of heat pump technologies. SB 1477s BUILD and HEAT programs are ramping up, and the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) announced $44m of funding for the adoption of heat pump water heaters.
Manufacturers are continuing to produce heat pump water heaters, and heat pump space heaters, as they are still considered an essential industry. The program administrators continue to roll out new rebate programs, and some are taking advantage of the slow down to provide educational opportunities for contractors.
It is encouraging to see that folks are looking forward, past the stay at home request, and making sure we can get back up to speed as soon as the situation is improved. I think we all need to realize this is an unprecedented time, and things are uncertain. The good news is most folks are thinking long-term, and the efforts we have been supporting will continue. Do your part, be safe, wash your hands, and take care of your loved ones.