Innovate...then wait...and wait

I spoke with the CEO of an American company making state-of-engineering heat pumps. But his company can't get past the federal gatekeepers at the Department of Energy (DOE).

I spoke with the CEO of an American company making state-of-engineering heat pumps. But his company can't get past the federal gatekeepers at the Department of Energy (DOE). The Acadia system built and sold by Hallowell International just doesn't fit the old model for HVAC. I blogged about Acadia two years ago. The official DOE algorithms just don't apply so the system doesn't currently qualify for any of the rich federal rebates now available. Founder and President, Duane Hallowell, told me he's now had to resort to hiring a lobbyist in Washington to push through some standards that apply to his firm's innovative heat pump tech. Hallowell is hoping for a DOE waiver that would qualify his product for the type of rebates that now apply to traditional heat pumps or geothermal systems. He applied back in March for that DOE waiver. The request's painstakingly slowly wending its way through DOE reviews, seven levels of review Hallowell's been told. Meanwhile, this American developed and America-built tech is getting regional recognition despite being stalled in Washington. Some electric co-ops have begun their own rebates to those buying the Acadia system which costs less than $15,000 for a typical home. Hallowell says in this era of need for alternative energy and energy conservation the government needs to get a quicker method for recognizing innovation and accommodate new products. Acadia uses three stages of processing while previous heat pumps have only two stages and thus the federal formulae have only two stages. This sounds very much like the problems faced by Serious Materials with their energy-efficient windows which are outside the traditional experience in building codes and standards. Thus Serious Materials' windows don't qualify for many energy rebates. Windows are "supposed" to leak energy, not provide insulation as good or better than solid walls. So Hallowell is spending money on a lobbyist that he would prefer to put into his product and its marketing. But not being on the right list for getting rebates is hurting Acadia sales at a time when they should be booming. Clunker furnace syustems are being replaced by more efficient heat pump and geothermal systems or even updated funaces--those that qualify for rebates up to 30% of installation costs. Besides the federal rebates there are many local or regional or state rebates that are bsed on those federal standards that still shut out the Acadia. Now an engineering innovation depends on the work of a lobbyist to get the official recognition that will allow Hallowell to compete on an even playing field. Letcha know what happens, if anything. Here's Hallowell International's website.