Do Government and Utility Rebate Programs Help or Hurt?

I say ... they hurt.  What say you?

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Hi Patrick,

I am not hostile at all, simply honest. If the HP industry is to succeed, it needs to move beyond being a welfare recipient.

Fist, we need to call a spade a spade or in this case a socialist. How do we grow by lying to ourselves?

I support those who are attempting to move the industry off welfare and make it sustainable.

Amen to that Pat. Many true statements in your post.

>>Step one, let big oil and their several billion per quarter profits pay all of the costs of their industry including keeping forces in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and all intelligence gathering costs in those areas.
Step 2 end all financial government subsidizing of the oil industry.

We (auditors, clients and service providers) are harmed by utility companies overcharging their customers to pay for rebates on equipment that utilizes their energy source with "audits" performed for free and by indirectly handcuffing contractors to the minimal recommendations made in the free "audits". 

It's just wrong.

It's time to sound the alarm, IMO, and warn against ... not promote ... these rebates.  They waste energy, cost utility customers more money and interfere with the business of the contractors who participate in them.

Right on,

But you're too late, We're addicted to the crack. The manufacturers, and contractor associations that used to confront the Utilities with slogans like "Fair Competition is Cool" have been reduced to beggars, pan handlers, and prostitutes. We no longer remember the, entrepreneurial spirt, capitalism, and free enterprise, now its all about the incentives, rebates, and subsidies. Just another day in Moscow. 

It seems kinda dumb to be "hooked" on these non-productive and harmful programs ... while complaining about the less than sufficient demand for our services ... as so many do.

Once "free audits" can be clearly associated with the ulterior motives behind them ... and "rebates" become clearly understood to be little more than a marketing tool for those who provide them ... the more credible our industry will become --- if we are smart enough to distance ourselves from them, now. 

Consumers searching for solutions to real problems will not be seeking them from those who created the problem, IMO.

Let me point out that most of us are energy geeks. I happen to be an energy geek AND a policy freak, and I have to tell you that most of you responding to this thread are mostly wrong. Invective and name-calling don't help, either.

All of us have been endlessly frustrated with the customer that won't pull the trigger on a project that you have PROVEN will save them energy and money. It's happened to every one of us. Why does that happen? Because, actually, markets rarely work well; markets for innovative technology almost never work according to neo-classical theory, and the various markets related to energy are (as already partially noted) hopelessly distorted.

Yes, energy markets are distorted by tax policies that let monster corporations dodge billions in taxes that the rest of us have to pay, by huge subsidies in the form of military spending, by the failure to tax pollution from energy production and energy use to pay the health costs of people with asthma and mercury poisoning, and on and on.

But, the "market" for energy efficiency is distorted, too. It's been poisoned by the window manufacturers that swear your utility bills will go down by 40% when you install their product, by the companies that sell a water injection system that will boost your car's mileage by 20% and on and on. And then there's the whole problem of getting the production of energy-efficient technologies ramped up to the volume that they become cost effective, instead of specialty products install only by us geeks.

All those "socialist" prorgams that you seem to hate even as they help pay the bills are designed by those of us that are trying to right all these screwed up markets. It's about as close to "anti-socialism" as I can imagine.

Do some reseach on pricing market failure, information assymmetry market failure, principle-agent failures and externaltities. Teach yourself a little about the history of science and "diffusion of innovation" theory. Learn what "valley of death" means to companies in our industry. THEN, talk to me about all those terrible programs -- that help you pay your bills and do the things this country desparately needs.

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.

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.



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...

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.
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).


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