• Wow. This is an interesting discussion, for a technical forum. Calling incentives "socialist" is pretty weak. Even if there were such a thing as a free market, it would operate only as well as its incentives programs worked.  Incentives allow us to hasten shifts in the markets.  They act as trim-tabs, using small relative amounts of money and other resources to make large course adjustments. You may think of them as evil but they are intrinsic to this economy and every other, and not going away.  The largest incentive programs in our economy are those managed by the IRS, of course, steering dollars to places that do the most good for the "public." - including collecting no taxes from the major oil companies.

    Utility incentives are simply demand-side operating costs and have been inadequate by billions of total dollars in the 37 years I have been doing business with them and their customers.

    Insulation ends up being the concept of the absolute least interest to the American people, yet the most important concept of the hundred years we are in the middle of. No illusionary free market will deal with that.  The Army could, but that would probably seem like "the man" stepping on the toes of the energy "freedom fighters."

    Ask not if rebate programs help or hurt, ask how we have to change them so they speed up the retrofit of the 50 million houses still left on the list.  Technically, we need more and larger...




    • Well, Tom...What do you call taking the fruits of one man's labor and giving it to another under the guise of making things equal or "fair". If you need a copy of the Communist Manifesto, I can surely mail one out to you.

      You telling us you disagree doesn't muster here. Break the argument and tell us how these programs are NOT socialist in nature.

      You know, I am really looking forward to the day when all of this federal money dries up, because it will be those like Linda and myself, who have acted purely as independent entrepreneurs through this whole process, who will be the only ones left standing. Gotta love less competition!!!

    • Hi Tom,

      It sounds like we agree, incentives distort markets("hasten shifts"). 

      Don't you think, after all this time, the HP guys could grow up and act like real businesses?

      Do you feel HP folks deserve welfare and charity? Has the welfare system been helpful or incapacitating?

      Calling the HP "industry" socialistic is not name calling but simply correctly identifying the structure of the process. It is however a very inefficient way to allocate resources and this can be seen over and over in the programs you promote. But, It is what it is. 

  • I am your "children" and I have watched many of you d*ck the dog for a long time.

    We subsidize big ag (agriculture), and continue to subsidize big oil and gas by the billions. We subsidize nuclear with highly reduced insurance rates.

    At the end of the day, subsidies distort the market, and therefore are wasteful, etc. BUT, if you drop energy efficiency and renewable energy subsidies while leaving other energy subsidies in place then you leave my generation and the younger ones in a very precarious situation. I, for one, will not send my children to fight for oil in the Middle East, nor will I support extended gas drilling without policies\laws that reflect that gas is no more than a bridge fuel.

    Also, the way you subsidize is important. I could go on, but I know that most of what y'all have said already to this post is worrisome for us youngins out there (especially those of us trying to work to shift away from extractive fuels).

    One more point...when I pay for your air sealing, etc. I am also paying to keep a new power plant(s) from being built, or new power lines installed. We're in this together, whether you like it or not.

    Support us young gens, and if you don't want to do that then get the Hell out of our way! (Sorry if this offends, the time for PC talk and reserved feelings is long gone in the fight to build a new model for powering this country).
    • Patrick,

      When you can cite for me where my origin of debt to you resides, I will gladly and freely give up my own hard-earned income to pay for your air sealing, insulation, etc. Until then, prop yourself up like any other business owner does (if you are one...I don't know). It is not my job, nor the governments to prop up ANY industry, regardless of what you deem to be important or valuable.

      Funny how you, in one breath, tell us to "stay the hell out your way", but yet you need my money to help you feel sustained? That defies logical reasoning at the highest of levels. It is akin to an abortion advocate telling someone to keep off of their uterus or out of their bedroom...but wanting the government to pay for abortion services or birth control.

      As for what you deem a "bridge fuel"...I am an all of the above kind of guy. I see the value in wind power, solar, wave power, natural gas, etc. and feel they all should be utilized to their full strength and value to the market. But it is purely ridiculous to say or infer that we should just shut off the spicket for oil until these other resources are fully capable of sustaining us a country. What do you propose we do in the meantime for the next,,,ummm,, 20-30 years? Just die by vine, so you can feel like you are being supported by those that came before you?

      There are reasons why these other innovations have fallen on their face in recent years...they are too expensive and they have enormous payback periods. Wind power can only be used in certain regions of the country efficiently, solar panels are expensive as all get out, which is why we have to rely on the Chinese to build them (see Solyndra). Natural gas is a fantastic resource that we should be going after diligently...BUT NO...environmentalists have to step in to put their foot down on its exploration and refining capabilities which raises the price due to the compliance costs caused by additional regulation.

      • John, I'm not here to argue, but I am here to support good men and women engaged in an industry that is sorely needed in the future.

        I have been in this industry for more than 3 years now, and have run a business for over 2 years. I began my career in HP with a custom builder, and continue to work with builders. What I have witnessed has been very clear: We build and renovate buildings today with a focus to the bottom line, and as a result the buildings suffer. I grew up in Boston where you have many very old houses that will stand for many more decades, and these houses were built by craftsmen and women. They were built during a time where fuel was cheap, people didn't use a lot of energy (instead they just bundled up or dealt with hotter days in traditional ways), and profits were typically slim.

        HP is the only check I can see on overzealous developers and builders. I just toured a brand new housing development built by a major developer, and I found so many weaknesses. This crap is exactly why I got into this industry, and why I know that if we're going to subsidize anyone it might as well be HP guys and gals. I don't want or need the money, but many of them need it. They are not salesmen and women, they are building scientists and pros, and many times their only agenda is to create better this not a desirable thing for society?

        John, why don't guys like you and me help support these folks by partnering with them and helping them to do what they do best? I am all about rising tides for everyone, and in this case "everyone" is the contractor, the building scientist (auditor), the HO, and the utility ratepayers. Are you against this line of thinking? Would you sacrifice your principles or professional standards to make an extra buck? I want to believe that guys like you care as much as I do (and as much as these HP folks do), but be real with me and answer whether you care or not? Ultimately, let's not waste our time debating with each other.
  • Hi Don,

    If you want to think you are righting the the world's wrongs, that's great. Me too.

    There can be no question as to the fact that HEPs are using OPM without their consent

    to do it. I have never met a Socialist who doesn't believe He is wiser than the rest of

    us as to how we should spend our money and we should just shut up go along. BTW, I am quite certain my understanding of economics is more than adequate.

    It is a big step in the right direction that at least now we can call these programs what they are,

    Socialist Programs.That is neither good nor bad, it just is.There are Socialist countries that have well developed energy and carbon policies, like Sweden and Denmark.

    "Home Energy Pros" are socialists. it is what it is.

    These HP folks evaporate when their subsidies go away. None have not figured out how to run a business

    that does not depend on welfare. That is not only sad, it keeps the industry addicted, stifles innovation,

    and produces inefficient delivery of services.

    Oh well.



    • Quite frankly, that is very offensive to a group of pretty darn good people. Don't fight the wrong battle(s) here.

      In full disclosure: I am a HP contractor, and I survive with zero subsidy. I implement HP projects, and deal with contracts where financing of projects is done through energy savings (if the numbers in reality don't match those in the software then me and my company loose, not the homeowners).

      What these HP folks are doing is using your money to help develop an industry which provides yet to be agreed upon rates of returns on investments. My company, for example, achieves average returns of 6-11% on HP projects. I invest in the market, and you're lucky to see returns in this range. I've kept cash in savings accounts and purchased bonds, but good luck seeing this range with either.

      Let's forget about what these HP folks are doing, and let's ask if this HP stuff makes economic sense. Right?

      I just hate to see fighting over this stuff, when the fighting excludes the economics of the matter. Because, at the end of the day, it is really all about jobs, efficient resource allocation, and long-term payback potential.

      Let's keep this dog fight in the realm of debating whether investments in HP pay off or not.
    • So, I can see there's nothing to be gained here through rational argument. Name-calling, especially inaccurate name-calling, is so much more satisfying...

  • Sorry, Don ... but I would have to rate the gas company's "free energy audit" that promotes its rebate, paid to replace the electric heat pump with a gas furnace, as being even less efficient than the window salesman grossly over promising the efficiency of his product.  Particularly when it is being paid from overcharges to its customers.  Consumers are being duped into making the wrong decisions and this is hurting our industry, IMO.

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