We’re off to a great start.
In the opening session, after BPA’s Nate Natale and Sydney Roberts gave a warm welcome and provided some of the important details that attendees need to know, John Tooley, as we’ve come to expect from this wise man, provided a very inspirational talk about the “mess” we are in! It was full of hope, compassion, wisdom, and good humor. It gives us all a sense of purpose that we need to grow though the challenges of working from home, working in a dangerous environment, and to be of service to our local, national, and international communities. If you didn’t see it live, please watch the recording.
Following is a recap of the day's sessions.
Federal Policy & Stimulus Update
Our person in Washington DC, Kara Saul Rinaldi, along with Alex Piper from Rep. Pete Welch’s office, and BPA’s Jean Nagy are answering questions about the ins and outs of all the stimulus legislation as well as ongoing efforts to pass laws supporting energy efficiency and the energy efficiency workforce and training.
I was taken back to the period in 2009 when we were all trying to figure out how to cope with the billions of dollars suddenly being funneled from the ARRA program to the DOE WAP program and other community action programs such as LIHEAP and the Community Block Grant programs. It was like “drinking from a fire hose”. The current efforts have the same feel about it. This isn't the same issue as we were facing before; this is a pandemic and a recession, so members of Congress have their hands full already. it's just the beginning of a lot of economic and social damages as a result from this. Kara mentioned that the current stimulus funds will be more than that from ARRA.
Emerging Issues in States and Utilities: COVID-19 Response, Interim Mitigation Measures and Longer-Term Trends
In this live session, Emily Levin of VEIC, Joseph Cullen of BPA, Maggie Molina from ACEEE, and David Terry discussed the challenges states face in keeping the WAP and energy efficiency workforce working during the pandemic and into the future. “This will be a battle for resources at the state level,” says Joe Cullen.
With state budgets across the country being deleted in the response to COVID-19 and an economic crisis where millions of workers and businesses are applying for financial assistance, this is a huge problem. With the federal government, up to now, resisting helping out the states, and with the usual anti energy efficiency crowd lobbying states to drop programs that save consumers energy—and more important than ever, give them a better indoor environment to live in. The WAP and home performance community has to remind their local and state leaders of the benefits of energy efficiency such as saving energy and improving the health of vulnerable populations with an emphasis now on projects that are “shovel ready” and that provide the most jobs in the energy industry.
A Word of Hope
The weatherization and home performance communities got through the first challenge in 2009, weatherized more than a million homes and were an important part of the stimulus that helped us out of the Great Recession. You are a group of committed, compassionate, and capable people. Have faith in yourselves and your professional colleagues, such as those who’ve been talking with us live today and will in the days to come, as well as in the “on demand” sessions in the next few weeks and throughout the year. In a time when trust is so important, and often lacking, you can offer that to each other. At BPA, we feel honored to work with our wise ones like John Tooley and all our presenters, to serve our community in this time of crisis. It’s given us all a chance to direct our passion in this difficult time into work that is meaningful and helpful to so many.
You can still register for the conference here: https://www.expotracshows.com/building-performance/2020/national-online/