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BPA Fighting for Energy Efficiency Programs During and Post Pandemic

May 13, 2020

The Building Performance Association (BPA) and its allies have been hard at work for our industry. Specifically, BPA has been working on petitions that will allow contractors and small businesses to provide energy efficiency services and take part in training while on-site work opportunities are limited due to COVID-19.

BPA’s conversations with state agencies where on-site work has been halted have informed these petitions and focused on potentially reimbursable activities such as:

  • Administrative follow-up or emergency responses for existing customers;
  • Support for online professional training and certifications (including COVID-19 safety);
  • Marketing to new customers post-pandemic;
  • Remote energy assessments or virtual pre-assessments to help identify short-term measures or facilitate future on-site retrofits; and
  • Scheduling of post-pandemic energy efficiency services for consumers.

Connecticut and New York guided businesses and workers on how to proceed with providing services during the COVID crisis. Many of BPA’s members and businesses are working to ensure that they can continue to offer critical services, conduct training and certification of staff, and prepare to ramp up activities as soon as work stoppages are lifted.

Attacks on Energy Efficiency Program Funding in NY, CT, & PA

The economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 shutdown has led some advocates for big businesses and large industrial firms to ask utility commissions to immediately cut their utility bills—particularly any fees for energy efficiency program funding.

These larger firms opposed energy efficiency programs before this crisis and have now filed “extraordinary relief” petitions in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to suspend payments for all work on energy efficiency programs. All three petitions seek to skip over the standard procedures in place for reviewing and updating state energy efficiency plans.

BPA’s Response

BPA partnered with state contractor organizations and non-profit groups to file comments and briefs to oppose these petitions. BPA’s filings report what we have seen across the country: that properly designed and implemented energy efficiency programs are the lowest cost, most predictable, and most immediate method to manage energy demand, create local jobs, and provide opportunities. BPA also states that energy efficiency programs provide health and comfort benefits to consumers and lower utility bills in the long term.

In all three states, BPA also reminded the utility commissions that keeping energy efficiency programs in place will pay big dividends down the road. In a post-pandemic economic environment, energy efficiency programs will help drive economic recovery by creating new jobs and aiding existing workforces, boosting economic activity in key labor-intensive sectors, and delivering benefits for all ratepayers.

Preparing for Future Debates

BPA’s responses may serve as a preview for the budget debates we anticipate this summer and fall as states come to grips with falling revenues and higher demands for social services. During these debates, BPA will emphasize that the post-pandemic potential for energy efficiency spending is not just a theory.

History shows that the clean energy sector is a proven catalyst for quick job growth in the aftermath of a recession. No part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was more successful at stimulating the economy following the Great Recession than the $90 billion in federal investments in clean energy. ARRA funds helped to create nearly one million clean energy jobs and resulted in the weatherization of more than one million homes by getting electricians, HVAC technicians, construction workers, and manufacturers back to work.

This stimulus impact of energy efficiency held true for ARRA-funded energy efficiency programs across the county.

Learn More

BPA partnered with statewide organizations and allies in each jurisdiction to maximize the effectiveness of the arguments unique to each state. BPA will continue to work with members around the country and partners in states where petitions like those in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania may appear. You may find BPA’s responses below:

  • Petition of the Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania – BPA Response
  • Connecticut Industrial Energy Consumers Motion -​ BPA Response
  • Petition of Multiple Intervenors – BPA Response

We will continue to monitor events in these three proceedings, and if necessary, continue to fight alongside our partners and allies against these thinly veiled attempts to roll back progress on energy efficiency and economic development for small businesses in our industry.

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