Introducing the Association's Policy Affairs Team
Kara Saul Rinaldi manages Building Performance Association’s government affairs team. Her team develops and advocates for policies and objectives that address obstacles to scaling the home performance industry, or that take advantage of new opportunities for contractors in that industry. Kara and her team go to bat at both the federal and state levels, working on issues such as the Federal Budget, regulatory issues with public utility commissioners, and legislative policies to advance building efficiency.
Kara’s deep in the issues. “I think it’s far more helpful to the policy makers that I am working with if I have a technical grasp of the issues, can answer questions, and help them to formulate policies,” she says. “To do that, I really need to understand the industry, so that’s why I write reports on everything from cost-effectiveness testing to recommendations for state legislators.” Now that we’re colleagues thanks to the merger between the Association and Home Energy, I’m happy to report we’ll be keeping our readers informed on things happening in the government, as it affects the home performance industry. I recently asked Kara to fill us in on five current policy topics. Here is her response.
- The federal budget. President Trump’s administration has zeroed out the weatherization programs and state energy programs, and has made dramatic cuts in the Building Technologies Office at DOE. These are parts of the federal government that support the growth of the home performance industry.
The government affairs team has successfully fought to protect these programs for the last two years; Congress has turned those cuts around, and in fact, we’ve gotten some increases. We’re asking for the same this year, and we are optimistic that Congress will again be with us to support these important programs.
- Workforce legislation H.R. 1315. The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2019. This important piece of workforce legislation, which was introduced by Chairman Rush in the House, would help provide critical training to contractors in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.
What we hear from contractors frequently is that while they may have job openings, they don’t have trained workers to fill them. Or if they train someone and that person leaves, they have lost their investment in that person, making them reluctant to invest in another trainee. H.R. 1315 provides training support for contracting businesses on a sliding scale. The smaller the business, the more incentive it would have to provide that crucial training in building science—training that will allow that business to give customers the best possible service and help workers transition into our industry.
- E ACCESS While we await reintroduction of this bill in the 116th Congress, we support its intent to provide guidelines to states to give consumers access to their utility data, making them better able to manage their energy use. We want homeowners and contractors to have quick and clear access to that data which provides important information about how a home uses energy. And we want customers to have more options from AMI [advanced metering infrastructure] providers without having to jump through hoops to get those options.
- The HOMES ACT H.R. 2043. The Home Owner Managing Energy Savings Act of 2019, known as the HOMES Act, is a rebate program for home energy upgrades. While the bill was introduced earlier this year, we are currently working with stakeholders on significant edits and updating to address some of the lessons we have learned from the states on rebate programs.
- The weatherization bill reauthorization H.R. 2041. This bill, the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, reauthorizes DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program. Building Performance Association and its partners have been working for years to support legislation to reauthorize this vital program, and to make sure it works for all parties at the state level. The bill includes updates to the program that should make it easier for private contractors to be a part of the weatherization industry.”
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