Would a stronger industry lobbying effort be beneficial?

John G. Swanson
February 24, 2009
THE TALK... | Management

Survey Results for 02/25/2009:

Would a stronger industry lobbying effort be beneficial?

No, nothing good comes from Washington.

  

 

42%

Yes, we have great message on the energy and jobs front.

  

 

36%

Yes, if only to make sure we're not over-regulated.

  

 

20%

No, we're too small an industry to have an impact.

  

 

2%

 

Well, there weren't a lot of direct responses to our poll question this week. No one came forth saying with emails outlining their views on what the industry should be doing in Washington. The poll results, I will say, definitely reflect what I hear when I speak to industry executives, however.

Our industry generally seems to be divided into two major camps. The first camp, including many of the 42 percent of our responded who voted that way, just don't want to get involved in advocacy or lobbying, because "nothing good comes from Washington."

The second camp is an emerging minority that is saying, "Yes, we have a great message on the energy and jobs front." My hunch is that some of these folks share the same skeptical attitude about Washington, but still believe there is reason to push for change. Some no doubt are believers in the benefits of energy efficiency and green. Some see opportunity for their companies at a time when opportunities are fewer and farther between. Some simply see the winds of change coming with the Obama Administration and believe they have to get involved.

While I didn't get a direct response to the general need for advocacy, we did hear quite a bit from readers this week on the subject of the tax incentives for energy efficient windows and doors. There's no doubt the change from Energy Star standards to a new .30 U-factor/.30 SHGC standard–"apparently the new industry baseline," as one manufacturer described it–caught many be surprise. Some manufacturers and dealers, no doubt, are taking the new numbers and running with them–trying to use the $1,500 tax credits to give their sales a jolt. Others are looking for new vendors so they can get qualiftying products into their lines. Others are looking to see if there's any chance for an appeal.

Whether that's possible or not, I don't know. The Department of Energy, for one, isn't answering questions on the subject. What's probable, I think, are more aggressive steps like the new tax credit performance numbers coming from the government.  We await the revised Energy Star qualification requirements–DOE has indicated they will be out this month. Looking further down the road, both the Obama Administration and Congress have a new energy bill and a climate change bill on their agendas. 

Many in the industry are excited about such plans. Politically, they agree with them, and they see a shot in the arm for their companies in the future.  I spoke with representatives of quite a few companies are enthusiastic about the tax credits, as well as other elements of the stimulus plan. They are believers in green and/or energy independence for our nation.  They don't necessarily agree with every step the government takes, but they like the general direction we're going in terms of more encouragement for high performance products.

On the other hand, word of more legislation and regulation plans probably only reinforce the views of many others that "nothing good comes from Washington." Personally, I'm a skeptic. Especially watching billions of dollars flowing to broken banks, I can sympathize with that attitude. I do believe, however, if that attitude continues to get in the way of our industry getting more involved in advocacy and lobbying, we may regret it.