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Solar Heating & Cooling Improves America’s Energy Security

As the SHC Alliance celebrates its 1-year anniversary this March, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on our achievements in 2013, and let you know about the exciting opportunities, as well as the collective challenges, our industry faces going forward.  

To start, we are coming up on the one year anniversary of the Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance structure at SEIA, which enables companies like yours to take advantage of the benefits and resources SEIA provides, while placing a specific focus on SHC issues. The Alliance structure established a separate and discrete Advocacy Fund, allowing us to fund SHC-specific activities, such as the recently completed SHC Roadmap. Additionally, the SHC Council was established to provide leadership and direction for the SHC industry in the U.S., and to represent the members of the SHC industry within the larger SEIA structure. The Council has direct discretion over the Advocacy Fund and consists of five elected positions: a Chairman (Mike Healy, Skyline Innovations), a Vice Chairman (Matt Carlson, Sunnovations), Treasurer (Eileen Prado, SRCC), and two Rotating Council members, currently Victoria Hollick (Conserval Systems) and Les Nelson (IAPMO). The Council also consists of SEIA Board of Directors Elected Members and Elected Alternates focused on solar heating and cooling; currently Ed Murray (Aztec Solar) and Ole Pilgaard (Heliodyne) serve on the Council in this capacity. The Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Treasurer serve two year terms and the Rotating Council member positions are elected annually. 

SHC: Energy for a Secure Future

We hit the ground running last March and quickly established a working group to complete the SHC Roadmap, Solar Heating and Cooling: Energy for a Secure Future. Ole Pilgaard led the working group and worked closely with our consultant Beam Engineering. Released on October 2nd, 2013, the roadmap has been an extremely effective tool to engage and educate policymakers across the country. The Roadmap was one of SEIA’s most successful and broadly read campaigns of the year, with stories in over 150 media outlets and over 215,000 people reached on Twitter.  I encourage you to check out the completed Roadmap and present it to your local state and federal elected officials so they have a better understanding of your business and the policies that will support your business. Thank you to those members and companies that supported the development of the Roadmap through financial contributions to the SHC Advocacy Fund and with your time.

State Policy Work

The SHC Alliance also quickly got to work in Massachusetts and New York. The SHC Alliance is working hard to ensure that our activities in 2013 lead to new market opportunities for our industry in 2014. To that end, we have established State Committees in Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, we are engaged in a legislative campaign that is on track to pass a bill that would establish a financial incentive for renewable thermal technologies through the Alternative Portfolio Standard. In New York, we are working with staff in the Governor’s office to make changes to the NYSERDA Solar Thermal program that would create a long-term, sustainable market in NY. Once completed, both the efforts in MA and NY will open up a robust market for SHC in the Northeast. We are also working with CALSEIA to increase the incentive levels for the CSI-Thermal program, and monitoring a handful of other states with the hopes that the SHC Alliance and SEIA can have a positive impact in those state markets too. We welcome your participation in driving these markets forward! 

Education and Market Insight

The SHC Alliance recently incorporated the activities of the popular USH2O forum into its array of member benefits. We are excited that Chip Bircher will continue to administer this valuable service to the SHC industry.  This monthly information-sharing call is part of the new communications and SHC community-building plan for SHC Alliance members in 2014.

  • 1st Monday of the month - Call for agenda items
  • 2nd Monday of the month – SHC Alliance teleconference: Industry information sharing, run by Chip Bircher
  • 3rd Monday of the month - Newsletter goes out, based on minutes from the call
  • 2nd week of even months – SHC Webinars
  • Quarterly - Chairman's Letter: Overall Alliance update and opportunities to help
  • Bi-annual - Member Meeting (web or in person): feedback on and discussion of Alliance priorities and activities
  • As needed - Calls to discuss SHC policy priorities, etc.

This communication will be available exclusively to SHC Alliance members in 2014, and is designed to bring additional value to your membership for you and your team, as well as strengthen our community of peers within the industry

Upcoming in 2014

We’ve made a lot of progress in 2013 and have set ourselves up for continued success in 2014. It will be a very busy year! However, we still have some significant challenges to overcome. We must continue to educate policymakers in Washington, DC and around the country on the many benefits of SHC and the need for proper energy policy. Just in January of this year, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee released a draft tax reform document that would have eliminated the investment tax credit for all solar heating and cooling technologies. The SHC Alliance responded to this draft tax reform document with a letter with signatures from nearly 60 SHC companies around the country. It is these kinds of united efforts that will lead to the growth and success of the SHC industry.

But we really need you to get involved and voice the needs of your company. We need to emphasize the successes we’ve had to date and show Washington and state legislatures that we are a viable American industry creating thousands of American jobs across the U.S.

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