The Elephant in the Room

Posted by Jim Gunshinan on March 27, 2017
The Elephant in the Room
Kara Saul-Rinaldi, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy at HPC

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 is the Editor of Home Energy. Macie Melendez also contributed to this blog.

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