Last week I attended the annual Home Performance Coalition (HPC) Conference & Trade Show in Nashville, Tennessee. (Along with 1,900 other people!)

One of my favorite sessions included Kara Saul-Rinaldi, the Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy at HPC. With over 20 years of experience in policy and communications strategy and legislative and regulatory experience, Kara has worked for members of Congress, testified before congressional committees, and appeared in a variety of media outlets as a leading energy and climate policy expert.

She was on a panel on Tuesday night at the HPC conference, which was led by Chris Dorsi of HabitatX. This was part 2 of a discussion that took place the evening before, “The Elephant In the Room”. (Think donkeys and elephants.) With her experience with Congress people, Kara knows what works and what doesn’t in regards to persuading a member of Congress to support energy efficiency legislation.

She told a story that stood out:

During the recession, Kara went with a group of efficiency stakeholders to a Congressional leader to lobby for a piece of legislation that would advance home performance contractors. With her was the owner of a small home performance company from the district of this congressman. Getting this contractor to talk was like pulling teeth, but she finally convinced him to speak up. He said, “I had ten trucks, but now I only have one. If you pass this legislation, I’ll have ten trucks again, maybe more.”

It was a simple as that—and the Congressional leader knew that more trucks meant more business, and that meant more jobs.

“That man and his few words were worth thousands of PAC dollars,” Kara said.

I was reminded that committed individuals can make a big difference even if the politics of the moment seem dire.


- Jim Gunshinan

Jim Gunshinan is the Editor of Home EnergyMacie Melendez also contributed to this blog.

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Comment by tedkidd on March 31, 2017 at 1:03pm
" I highly recommend the trainings available from Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that helped create the bipartisan climate solutions caucus in Congress, and advocates a nonpartisan solution to climate policy."

I'm with Jacob.

I'd go one step further. CCL is the group advocating for policy that could really help our industry,
so learn about it,
practice the laser talks,
learn how to talk across the aisle to conservatives about how this aligns with their values,
and keep your fingers crossed that we can implement before it's too late...
Comment by Jacob Corvidae on March 30, 2017 at 9:46am

Great story, Jim (and Kara). 

For anyone interested in training on engaging with congresspeople, I highly recommend the trainings available from Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that helped create the bipartisan climate solutions caucus in Congress, and advocates a nonpartisan solution to climate policy. But their other objective is just to train citizens to be better lobbyists, and they provide free training on a really effective method for this, which is worth understanding if you're ever plannign to talk to congress folks. 

Comment by Tom Phillips on March 30, 2017 at 8:54am

Great reminder! How do we get more contractors to visit their legislators?

Related info from state & regional studies on job, income, and economy benefits of EE. It is pretty impressive:

Efficiency is a pro-jobs, pro-environment energy solution, 3/29/17. Big boost in jobs, income, & sales in Midwest.

2016 Macroeconomic assessments of EE for OR and WA:

Comment by Chris Dorsi on March 29, 2017 at 3:35pm

This was a great session, witness the fact that we had to schedule a second showing to accommodate those who couldn't fit in the room for the first.

Kara's simple message -- to stay engaged with your political delegation if you care about the future -- was echoed by her co-panelists Steve Cowell, Dan Kartzman, and Tim Miller.

You can view Kara's analysis of the current political situation, and learn more about the session, at the Habitat X Resource Page.

Comment by Horace Douglas Hunt, Jr. on March 28, 2017 at 1:57pm

poignant and timely story!

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