HVAC Industry Leaders Chart New Course in California

July 6, 2009
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SAN FRANCISCO - The investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in California, along with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the University of California Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, sponsored a historic HVAC Energy Efficiency Roundtable on May 12-13. For the first time, this event brought together the leaders of the HVAC industry, including individuals and organizations representing contractors, distributors, manufacturers, labor, educators, code bodies, building inspectors, regulators, researchers, and both investor-owned and municipal utilities (including managers of integrated demand-side management programs, work force training programs, and emerging technologies efforts) to begin to chart a course to achieve the ambitious greenhouse-gas reduction goals set by California’s legislature and regulators.

The historic commitment by the IOUs to work in new ways to achieve deep energy savings was evidenced by the welcome from high-level executives with each of the IOUs, including Duane Larson, director of customer energy efficiency for Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Mark Gaines, director of customer programs for Sempra Utilities, and Gene Rodrigues, director of energy efficiency for Southern California Edison. A keynote address by Dian Grueneich, CPUC commissioner, reinforced this commitment to find big and bold new ways to promote energy efficiency.

Figure 1. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

The roundtable was one of the first steps in the utilities’ plan to begin partnering with the industry to achieve the goals set forth in the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan (www.californiaenergyefficiency.com). The strategic plan calls for a transformation of the HVAC industry in order to meet specific targets. (See Figure 1.)

Most of the two-day event was dedicated to identifying the barriers that have, up until now, kept the industry from providing the performance needed to achieve these goals, and then to identifying ways to remove those barriers.

Some of the most significant barriers identified included lack of enforcement of the efficiency requirements of Title 24, insufficient training and appeal for the large work force that will be needed, and the low value that many customers place on receiving superlative quality in the installation and maintenance of HVAC equipment.

The California utilities are aiming to address some of these barriers in their upcoming ambitious programs and future programs, although they were the first to admit that they cannot meet these goals alone, and it will take concerted action from all the stakeholders represented at the roundtable to achieve the kind of transformation that is needed.

In light of the unprecedented teamwork that will be needed, the group agreed to create an industry-wide task force to address some of the near-term and longer-term issues. This task force will provide ongoing guidance to the utilities, policymakers, and other stakeholders to ensure that California’s bold greenhouse gas reduction goals are met.

For more information, contact Kristin Heinemeier, (kheinemeier@ucdavis.edu), Paul Kyllo (paul.kyllo@sce.com), Padraic McFreen (pcm0@pge.com), or Shea Dibble (sdibble@semprautilities.com). A report on the findings of the roundtable will be available at http://wcec.ucdavis.edu.

Publication date: 07/06/2009

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