Last Tuesday, I got up at 4am to shoot across to the “West Coast” of Missouri — to KC — for a meeting with MAAEP I’m helping to organize. But to my surprise I wasn’t going anywhere because three inches of snow were all over my driveway and my car pretty much became a glorified sled on ice. All dressed up, I proceeded in the pitch dark to begin shoveling and salting and hurrumphing until, eventually, I was able to break free. February is about stick-to-it-iveness!

The following is a report of Tuesday’s event building support for energy auditors and home performance contractors. Some good information on clean-tech economic growth and energy efficiency initiatives that stave off up-front costs for home-owners making these upgrades affordable — sometimes even profitable!  

Energy professionals organize statewide across Missouri

February 10, 2010, Kansas City — The Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (www.MAAEP.org) held its second organizational meeting for professional members yesterday at Kansas City’s Metropolitan Energy Center training facility (www.kcenergy.org).

Participants included representatives from Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Sustainable Solutions, Hayes Company, Henges Insulation, AB May, US Environmental Protection Agency, Green Cat, Hishaw Construction, Crowder College, Performance Plus Homes and many other energy efficiency businesses and related home contractors.

MAAEP represents professionals working in the fast-growing energy efficiency industry. A confluence of benefits derived from energy efficiency upgrades on existing homes and construction are providing impetus for the industry’s current expansion into the mainstream. Job creation, energy independence, home improvement and sustainability are all positive outcomes derived from energy efficiency.

Despite a lack of substantive government incentives in the last decade, the clean-energy economy has grown steadily. A recent Pew Report found that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007.

In the Midwest, Kansas City is leading in clean-energy and energy efficiency thanks to several cost cutting programs. “The Home Performance with Energy Star rebate program is working with Kansas City Power & Light and Missouri Gas Energy to provide home owners with rebates of up to $1200 when properties are improved with efficiency upgrades,” explained Ramona Schwartz of the Metropolitan Energy Center. “We’ve had over 200 completed contracts since our program began — with many more in the pipeline.”

Issues specific to the energy efficiency industry were shared in an open forum. Martin Tennant, with Hathmore Technologies, expressed concern for maintaining best practices and standards in the quickly evolving energy efficiency industry, “Without seriously supporting systems that assure adequate control and accountability – both before and after our work is completed – the home energy efficiency industry invites long-term damage to customer faith and satisfaction. Currently, our market presence is relatively diffuse and spread out, but as energy efficiency work becomes more popular, it is vitally important that we commit to continual quality improvement in our profession.”

Last Wednesday, MAAEP joined Renew Missouri and 150 concerned citizens in lobbying legislators in Jefferson City calling attention to revenue neutral initiatives making energy efficiency retrofits affordable for home owners. “The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program finances the cost of efficiency improvements over 15-20 years, and with savings gained from lower monthly utility bills, home owners immediately put cash into their pockets while increasing the comfort and value of their homes,” explained attorney and former energy geologist Tom Appelbaum.

Rick Westmoreland, of Liberty Homes, cautioned on shifting attention from existing programs such as Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM) while promoting new pilots such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). EEMs were first introduced in 1980, expanded nationally in 1995 and are currently sponsored by all mortgage programs insured by the US Federal government. Like the PACE pilot, Energy Efficient Mortgages allow home-owners to finance efficiency upgrades over a longer term (15-30 years) defraying upfront costs.

Barry Dicker of Decent Energy, spoke to the necessity and timeliness of energy pros getting organized, “I see MAAEP playing a role in helping efficiency businesses focus on positive ways in going forward. By operating as an information clearing house to spread awareness of emerging programs and initiatives, MAAEP can help us position ourselves to capitalize on these new opportunities. We can have a much more significant impact by acting collectively, than any of us can individually.”

The Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals will be holding additional organizational meetings in Springfield and Columbia in early 2010.