Introducing ‘Renewable Revolution’

A new column by Tom Tubman of the American Energy Coalition and Sean Cota of the National Energy & Fuels Institute

The oil heat industry came together on September 16, 2019 to adopt the Providence Resolution during NEFI’s HEAT Show (Heating & Energizing America Trade Show). It was an easy decision at the time, given the multitude of state legislative initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. The industry understood that it needed to take a bold and decisive action to reduce heating oil’s carbon footprint or be legislated out of business. The Providence Resolution, employing increasing concentrations of biodiesel blended into ULSHO (ultra-low sulfur heating oil), commits our industry to a 15 percent carbon reduction by 2023, 40 percent reduction by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2050. Following the adoption of the Providence Resolution, most Northeast states’ oil heat associations also formally signed on to the initiative and its carbon reduction goals.

Since then, NEFI (now the National Energy & Fuels Institute) the state associations, the American Energy Coalition (AEC) and other interested parties have been meeting and planning how to best implement the resolution, including strategic communications and outreach necessary to insure the survival of our industry.

The first step was to hire a consultant (The Kearney Group) to help get the effort off the ground. Initially, five Task Groups were established to focus on the following issues: Communications, Supply & Infrastructure, Technical Standards, Heat Source Comparison, and Policy Coordination. After several months, with Kearney’s task completed, NEFI hired Project Manager Christina Cisneros-Guzman to help spearhead this critical industry effort. Christina has been on board for four months now, and the transition to her leadership has been seamless.

A major fundraising program will be needed to undertake the marketing and outreach that will be necessary to reach all the constituencies that we will need to engage. Planning is underway to establish a “Survival Fund” to provide the financial commitment needed for this ambitious undertaking to have our message heard. Several fundraising options are being considered, but suffice it to say, broad industry participation will be essential to raise the funds needed to accomplish our goal.

All of this planning has been accomplished by a diverse, talented, and knowledgeable subset of oil heat industry leaders. And while a sizable number of folks volunteered to help, this group is relatively small in comparison to our entire industry. The goal of this article is to begin to let the larger industry, as a whole, better understand what has been done, what is currently underway, and the next steps necessary to reach our goal which is the survival of our businesses. This column is a collaboration between AEC and NEFI with input from other oil heat associations.  Expect to see this column in the coming months as we begin to lay out the industry plan. We hope that the information we provide in coming months will be useful to you, and we hope that you will share the information with your staff, your customers, elected officials, public policy folks, and others who you think need to hear our vision for the future.

We have a great story to tell; we have a great product in renewable liquid heating fuels; and, unlike other low carbon space heating options, we have the infrastructure in place, “right here – right now,” to implement the carbon reductions being mandated by state legislative initiatives.

Sean Cota is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NEFI. He can be reached at sean.cota@nefi.com. Tom Tubman is the Executive Director of AEC. He can be reached at conn.tubman@cox.net.

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