The delusion that real change for the homeowner and for the environment can be brought about by this form of unregulation must be shattered. Those in power who control energy distribution do not want people to conserve. It is against human nature to expect any human run entity to give up their steak once they already took a bit of it and tasted how juicy it is. To put a policy in their hands and leave them in charge of its success is dooming it to failure. The policy in its current state is simply just a waste of time in terms of the environment; a slow moving effort that very few take advantage of while millions of homes continue to lose their energy efficiency and millions of dollars are wasted on inefficient fuel consumption. In terms of the economy, it serves as a building block for job creation in the green sector. Touché! The pro-capitalist goal somehow managed to emerge out of an initial environmental policy and thereby diminishing its original purpose.
Perhaps there may be room for the two philosophies to coexist but only with a set of green building standards that ‘all’ contractors must adhere to which are much like the building codes. For example, implementing a retrofitting guideline that say “contractor shall insulate around replacement window frames before install in order to prevent air leakage through the building envelop”. If a contractor fails to adhere to this simple yet widely unpracticed step then they are responsible for making the proper corrections. The burden of dealing with inefficient renovation should not be on the homeowner. It should be on the industry. It should be part of its evolution.
If contractors were forced to adhere to green building and renovation guidelines on a daily basis, would their jobs intermix with the current and separate “green jobs” sector? If more home owners saw the benefits of green building and renovation without being tricked into some type of scheme, would the idea catch on even faster? If more people bought into this idea would it drive down the price of home energy efficiency transition? It is truly my belief that if the interests of the homeowner and consequently the environment were put first, then the effects would resonate strongly into the economy for there are countless renovations and improvements to be made in this country. It is silly to think we would ever reach a point where every building is perfect and no one will have a job in maintenance and repair.
On April 18th, 2010, the New York Newsday’s Earth Day Special that features a 2 page “Guide to Green Rebates” admitted “green incentives can be pretty confusing”. Why is this acceptable to say especially around Earth Day? There seems to be something else going on. Figuring out the underlying motives of this policy can help predict its long term viability.
First of all let’s start with the facts. It is simply false advertising to insinuate that the homeowner will get one Comprehensive Home Assessment from any BPI certified contractor they list and that each contractor can provide additional important information on resources such as loans programs. According to Mr. P, he did not know much about the state level energy incentives because they are given out by the utility companies who have a vested interest in maintaining confusion. They do not want customers to save and conserve, they do not want to give out rebates even though the homeowners have already been paying into this program for years through SBC, they would much rather take the SBC money and put it towards expanding power generation like LIPA did and encourage people to use, use, use so they can expand their profit margin.
It is also discouraging that there isn’t a demand to make this program more informative for the homeowners before they make the first payment. The promotional lines for this program almost seem like a flashy credit card offer that promises 1% back on every dollar spent. People are so enticed by the thought of getting something back that they are persuaded into paying more than what they hoped for or even have. This may be the difference between living in a semi-comfortable inefficient home or living in no home at all because of over spending and foreclosure. I wanted to believe that this program was everything it advertised to be but as with many environmental policies, they are very expensive and in our financial system, not very feasible unless the homeowner plans ahead and saves for it.
So why isn’t there a real push to change this policy to better accommodate the homeowner? I believe the answer lies in the statement previously made about politicians. NYSERDA was created in the 1970’s to help solve the energy crisis but has been transformed into an entity that promotes energy industry competition and the development of green jobs. Currently anyone can be a BPI certified contractor. That means anyone can jump right into the “green jobs” sector. These types of jobs are seen as sustainable jobs since they can only be performed domestically without risk of outsourcing. If anyone can jump right in then the green jobs sector will grow to a noticeable size and be recognition as an important economic force in our society.
The current administration supports the efforts for unregulated job creation even if it is at the expense of the people who voted them into office. The figure below shows a graph recently created by the Obama Administration promoting its success of job creation especially within the past few months.
Figure: Job Loss and Job Creation Diagram over a 2 year period
 NYSERDA: NYS Energy Plan 2002, Section 2-1 http://www.nyserda.org/sep/sepsection2-1.pdf
 Barack Obama: The Economy in Recovery http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/aprileconomicrecovery