COVID-19 Challenges at the State Level & BPA’s Response
July 15, 2020
This summer, the Building Performance Association has been keeping its focus on getting contractors back to work safely and making sure that energy efficiency programs remain fully funded and prepared for the COVID challenges ahead. Our state policy efforts have continued aggressively in three main areas:
Developing Health and Safety (H&S) Protocols for Back to Work
BPA has developed a single user-friendly source of information and training for contractors who are eager to get back to work in the safest manner possible in compliance with state and federal guidelines – Keeping You and Your Customers Safe and Healthy in the COVID-19 Environment.
Working to make the H&S Protocols applicable and safe for the residential energy efficiency business sector has required a good deal of behind the scenes negotiations with state agencies, state contractor organizations, and utility providers. This has not been an easy process given the uncertain health issues associated with COVID-19 and the shifting guidance received from federal agencies. That’s why BPA has also engaged DOE, the National Labs, and their consultants on the most appropriate protocols and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Technical modifications on the requirements for types of masks, coveralls, and building science techniques such as Blower Door assisted air sealing and testing have produced critical consensus agreements that will allow programs such as the Weatherization Assistance Program to get back to serving low-income communities safely.
Defending State Energy Efficiency Programs with Your Help
We reported in May of 2020 that the coronavirus shutdown prompted several large industrial firms to ask Utility Commissions in three states to immediately cut their utility bills and eliminate or reduce fees related to energy efficiency. These large users and business groups filed “extraordinary relief” Petitions and asked three state Utility Commissions to suspend the collection of funds energy efficiency programs. BPA answered these Petitions with overwhelming support in each state.
- New York – 152 contractors and small businesses signed in on support of this response.
- Pennsylvania – 61 contractors signed on in support of this response.
- Connecticut – 30 contractors signed on in support of this response.
A very big “thank you” our members and supporters for signing on to fight against these devastating attacks on program funding!
Monitoring Ongoing State Public Utilities Proceedings
Several state Utility Commissions are considering rule changes and other responses to the COVID crisis. These proceedings address issues ranging from shut-offs and collections activities considering the economic crisis to updates to guidance on “back to work” standards. BPA continues to monitor these proceedings and works with partners to file comments to help educate regulators and Commissions.
For example, in July of 2020, BPA, the Association for Energy Affordability, Inc., Building Performance Contractors Association of New York State, Building Performance Institute and E4TheFuture filed comments in A Proceeding on Motion of the Commission Regarding the Effects of COVID-19 on Utility Service at Case No. 20-M-0266 before the New York Public Service Commission (NY PSC). These joint comments urged the NY PSC to make sure contractors can continue to get back to work as soon as possible in New York state. The comments emphasized that “Energy efficiency retrofits can be safely conducted in the field by following recently developed health and safety (H&S) protocols. One of our shared policy goals is that every home should be energy efficient, comfortable, healthy, and safe – even during a pandemic.”