Who's Building the Future of Renewable Energy In America?
The three children pictured above are my three children after seeing Santa this past weekend. In the near future, instead of asking for Star Wars light sabres, Nintendo DS games, and Dora the Explorer merchandise, they will be asking to borrow the keys to the car. Will that car be an electric car? A solar car? Or will it be the same kind of cars that we are driving today? Who is going to build the future of American renewable and green energy use? Believe it or not, we are.
Government Works When It Enables It's Citizens, Not Dictates To Them
Every government has one job. To make money and influence power. This money is used for building and maintaining roads, schools, bridges, dams, power plants, and hundreds of other infrastructural points along with creating new ones. It's a business. Because it is a business, government is going to look for new ways to make money while putting as little into that new "thing" as possible. The government is currently doing this with rebate programs for performing certain energy efficient building upgrades. I use these rebate programs for my business because it makes an expensive project cheaper. It works. But the government is not promoting their programs. Contractors and consultants are promoting the programs in order to help our clients. Contractors who work with energy efficiency will drive the market to turn in that direction. The more the government tries to involve itself, the less effective the programs will become. That being stated, the government should have programs for other things. For example, buy a hybrid, bio diesel, or electric car and get a $2,000 rebate check from the government. Not a dealer rebate, a government rebate check sent to the consumers address or deposited electronically into their bank account. Along with that, the dealership would get a smaller amount per vehicle from the government deposited into their account; lets say $100. This would probably create a large advertisement campaign by car manufacturers promoting the program and thus bringing the people in to buy the products. This is very similar to how the current rebate programs work for insulation, mechanical equipment, and HVAC equipment.
Power Companies Give Away Work
Some power companies are offering incentives to commercial building owners to pay for the energy efficient projects completely. Do companies know about this? Most do not because no one promotes it... except me. The biggest issue is the paperwork is confusing and so are the terms. Every utility company is different, but every large utility in this country offers this program under a different name. Because commercial buildings use roughly 80% of the electrical power in the United States, this would be a great place to start. The best part about this program is the contractor gives the company a quote, the company goes to the utility company and either deny or OK the project. Once the project is completed, the company pays their normal "average" utility bill to the utility company. in 3 to 5 years the project is paid for with the "extra" payments from the company to the utility company that they were going to pay anyway and now can benefit from the savings. This program could not be improved any more except to have more participants. Sometimes I think I am the only one who promotes these programs. It makes my company money, and allows for the company I have performed work on to save money. Who said you can't have your cake and eat it too?
Convenience = Power
The lesson hear is that once people know what is available to save the money, they tend to use those resources. Walmart did not become a mogul overnight. It took years of offering products at low prices and offering more and more services for "convenience." If you give someone a choice of whether they could buy a product for full price 1 mile away or 20% off 10 miles away, they will tend to buy the product one mile away. Energy efficient products need to be marketed EVERYWHERE in order to truly change our nation. People will always go to the most convenient place first to find what they are looking for.
Making this country greener, more efficient, and more sustainable is every one's responsibility. It must be understood that not everyone will participate toward future progress, whether it is energy or space travel or anything else. What matters in the end is that did what you believed was right and served the purpose of trying to provide a better tomorrow for the people you know and love. I have three very good reasons to keep trying. What are your reasons?