This doesn’t happen very often, but when a utility program comes along that actually helps to incent consumers to purchase energy-efficient equipment and it encourages good installation principles, then it’s time to stand up and cheer.

Southern California Edison (SCE) just launched its Energy Star® Residential Quality Installation program. The installation parameters are patterned after the ANSI/ACCA 5 QI-2007: HVAC Quality Installation Specification. The top incentive is $1,250 for a homeowner. Here is the big news - only California contractors who are eligible for the NATE Consumer Contractor Connection (C3) will be eligible to offer these incentives to their customers.

Many demand side management programs at utility companies, in the past, have been effective in securing a short-term spike in energy efficiency and saving a few dollars on the energy grids, but behavioral change among contractors and homeowners was not always a direct result of these programs.

Adding a requirement for participating contractors to have at least 50 percent of their technicians be NATE certified is the best step I have ever seen a utility undertake.

This is how change happens. Congratulations to Paul Kyllo, program manager at SCE, for having the vision to help SCE get it right.

Now, it is imperative for California HVAC contractors to step up to the plate. The number of NATE-certified technicians is far from enough to be able to service the needs of the SCE program. California contractors should not miss this opportunity to monopolize the incentives on qualifying systems.

Not NATE certified yet? Go to