With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to deliver $9 billion in federal funding to states for residential energy efficiency and electrification projects. Home energy efficiency measures provide significant benefits to residents – for example, they lower utility bills each month, improve indoor air quality, and better regulate indoor temperatures during the warmest and coldest months of the year – leading to better health and quality of life for household occupants. Increasing home energy efficiency also lowers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and creates demand for skilled labor in an industry that provides millions of stable, good-paying jobs.
Despite all these benefits, the COVID-19 pandemic created serious challenges for contractors and for the energy efficiency sector at large. DOE’s 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) highlighted the lingering effects that COVID-19 had on the energy efficiency sector – stalling its growth and even resulting in a loss of 271,719 jobs in 2020 – down 11.4% from 2019. During the height of the pandemic, residential contractors were unable to enter homes due to safety concerns and government social distancing guidelines. Just a year later, however, DOE’s 2022 USEER analysis showed energy efficiency jobs rebounding. The report found that in 2021, the energy efficiency sector employed 2,164,914 people in the design, installation and manufacturing of energy efficiency products and services – an increase of 57,741 jobs from 2020 to 2021.
DOE’s Residential Energy Contractor Training Program Overview
The U.S. Department of Energy’s $9 billion Home Energy Rebate Program, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, is already creating unprecedented demand for skilled contractors and other workers across the country who are involved in the installation of energy efficiency and electrification measures. To achieve the goals of the program, the energy efficiency workforce will need to grow significantly – which in turn requires massive investments in training and education.
Fortunately, $200M is available to states for contractor training and education through Section 50123 of the Inflation Reduction Act (the State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training program, or Contractor Training Program). The legislation directly specifies that Contractor Training Program funds can be used to reduce the cost of training contractor employees, to provide testing and certification of contractors, or to partner with nonprofits to develop and implement a state program. State Energy Offices will be the “prime recipient,” or designated state agency responsible for overseeing the distribution of funds within their states.
While the implementation of Contractor Training Program funding will look different for every state given their differing needs and allocation amounts, states will likely use the funding for on-the-job training, online outside certification courses and testing, in-person outside certification courses and testing, or a combination of several of these approaches.
Timeline and Process for Distributing Contractor Training Program Funds
Timelines for DOE progress on these programs are in flux. Additional information on how this program will operate and the specific documentation that will be required from states is not yet available. It is also not yet clear whether these funds will be delivered to states through a predetermined “formula” or through competitive means. DOE is requesting public input on how best to structure this program through public roundtables, which it will be holding throughout early 2023. DOE also released a Request for Information on the Contractor Training Program in December 2022, with responses due by January 26, 2023.
DOE’s decision to release an RFI on this program before the two Home Energy Rebate Programs is noteworthy, as it indicates that DOE plans to distribute Contractor Training Program funding to states first. This only further underscores the urgent need to prepare for the surge in skilled energy efficiency contractor demand that these programs will generate.
How Everblue Can Help Meet the Demand for Skilled Contractors
Everblue stands ready to work with state energy offices and non-profits to help structure and implement the Contractor Training Program and Home Energy Rebates. Contractors who perform home energy efficiency and electrification upgrades as part of these programs will need to be familiar with Building Performance Institute (BPI) standards and procedures. Everblue has been a BPI Test Center for over 10 years and offers comprehensive BPI certification courses to help home energy professionals learn all the building science principles they need to succeed in their role and to get BPI certified.
When funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) became available between 2009-2011, Everblue worked directly with community colleges, utilities, and unions to help train their students and employees to be building science professionals. In fact, during the ARRA funding period, we hosted multiple in-person contractor training events across the country simultaneously.
Not only does Everblue have a demonstrated history of helping implement federal funding for contractor training and certification, but we also set ourselves apart by having a robust learning management system with the capacity to accommodate thousands of online learners at the same time. In addition to the online course offerings, Everblue also has in-person options and allows people the flexibility to learn through whichever format – online, in-person, or hybrid – best suits their needs.
A Long History of Working with the Public Sector
Everblue is currently partnered with over 10 state government agencies to deliver online training and testing. In fact, we are already listed as a vendor in many state databases and even have security clearances. Through these partnerships, Everblue has gained a deep understanding of how government processes and procedures work and has built long-lasting relationships with the public sector along the way, making it one of our core competencies. As a Veteran Owned Small Business with over 25 years of experience working in the public sector, we’re prepared to help deliver these once-in-a-lifetime benefits for households through the U.S. by preparing current and future contractors for the next steps in their energy efficiency career.
Take your career to the next level and get started today by checking out Everblue’s course offerings! We anticipate the BPI Building Analyst Training to be the most relevant and impact certification pertaining to the Inflation Reduction Act and the Contractor Training Program.