Lots of times, the devil is in the details.
When a law mandating the creation of energy efficiency programs gets passed, it generally authorizes a public utility commission to implement the law and charges it with issuing rules and guidelines. The commission often seeks input from various “stakeholders” in public hearings before a design agreeable to the commission is approved. Finally, contractors and auditors are presented with the program requirements, a myriad of forms, new program software, and various hoops to jump through.
Enshrined in federal law is the principle that parties that are “directly and materially affected” by the law shall have a powerful influence upon on how laws are implemented. Oftentimes, like in the scenario mentioned above, the home performance company is sidelined throughout the entire process or its voice is substantially diluted by the positions of other “stakeholders” – with the result being that the well-intended program doesn’t really work in the brutally efficient marketplace. Then everyone wonders that the program failed.
Please bake into your thinking that it’s you, the home performance company, that is directly and materially affected by this process, and by extension so is your customer – the homeowner, rate payer, tax payer, and voter. You are the one selling these programs to homeowners and executing the work in homes. Not the well-intended legislator, or the governor, or the regulator, or the utility.
When home performance companies unite and advocate for growth and market friendly programs, everybody wins — policymakers who want their policies to work on-the-ground; program implementers who need to see their clients succeed; home performance companies and employees whose livelihoods depend on business coming in the door; customers living in comfortable, energy efficient homes; and communities across the country that use less energy and are free to spend those savings in the local economy.
So it’s worthwhile to take stock: Are you asking permission to have a say in the process – maybe from the outside looking in? Or, are you genuinely at the head of the table, beginning in the legislative process, present and engaged at every hand-off, and through the maturation of the program? Or better yet, have you set the table, invited the guests, and set the menu? If you’re asking permission, that’s okay because you and your peers can change that. Just mark your calendar and note that today is the day when you set your sights on becoming informed, educated, action oriented, and outcome focused. Today is the day that you stopped asking permission. Collectively, as a still maturing industry, that’s a journey we take can take together.