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Industry optimistic after SCE rebate meeting

While no immediate change occurred to the 2019 pool pump rebate program as a result of a March 5 meeting between pool and spa industry leaders and officials from Southern California Edison, industry members emerged optimistic that a new deal could be implemented.

Terry Snow, the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association’s Legislation and Regulation Committee chair, was among the industry representatives who felt positive about their ability to influence SCE to include the broader industry in the rebate program. 

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be and they didn’t make any promises,” he said. “We don’t know how they are going to respond, but they seemed willing to fix this.” 

It was a united front, according to those who attended, with representatives from the California Pool and Spa Association, IPSSA, Hayward, Pentair, Zodiac and Pool Corp.  

Bob Nichols, owner of Precision Pool Service in San Dimas, California, helped set up the meeting.

“This was the first time in history that manufacturers, distribution, service and government relations were all in the same room on the same subject, and the same side, and it worked out,” Nichols said. “They are prepared to go in a direction that we want them to go, but it is going to take some time.“

According to Mike Giddens, Zodiac’s regional sales manager, the reason SCE has structured the rebate process for retail stores only was to help contain and reduce their own management costs associated with running the rebate program.  

The group discussed alternate avenues to a rebate program, including downstream, midstream, and upstream approaches. They discussed the possibility of distribution involvement in the rebate process, a midstream approach; manufacturer involvement, an upstream approach; or rebates offered through service professionals, a downstream approach.

“We had good conversation about potential alternatives to this rebate,” Gibbons said. “My sense was they didn’t understand the structure of the pool industry, in the way manufacturers sell to distribution and distribution sells to everyone else in the trade: builders, retailers, pool pros.” 

Jerry Wallace, chairman of the board of directors for the California Pool and Spa Association, said the people at SCE were receptive but it is now a matter for SCE’s internal team to discuss. 

Because SCE is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, the CPSA has been taking a multipronged approach to encourage SCE to change its rebate program by discussing the issues with the leadership there.

“They are going to take our ideas and run them up the flag pole,” Wallace said. “They seemed genuinely surprised and interested by our comments and suggestions, which is a good thing because it means they had not considered the ideas we presented to them.” 

“For now, the ball is 100 percent in Edison’s court,” Wallace said. “We encouraged them that faster is better.” 

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