HVAC Coalition advocates for fair marketplace
December 9, 2013
The HVAC Coalition touted its success with the Enbridge Open Bill Program and its increasing partnerships with utilities across Ontario over the past year at its annual meeting held November 26, in Vaughan, ON. The Coalition also raised concerns about the challenges the industry is facing because of the growing number of Ontario utilities and rule changes at the Ontario Energy Board.
“The goal has always been and will always continue to be a level playing field,” said Roger Grochmal, chairman of the HVAC Coalition, during the meeting hosted by the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and attended by 60 people. Grochmal said there are now 80 new electrical utility companies in Ontario, and electricity is being used as a “political football” — which is potentially dangerous to HVAC contractors. He described a three-step model to help overcome this challenge: advocate directly with utilities, engage politically with publicly-owned municipal governments, and intervene selectively.
Grochmal advised Coalition members to be vigilant and diligent in terms of gathering evidence, and to meet politicians in the community. He also reminded the room that the Coalition’s board or directors is working hard on behalf of its members. “Your coalition is evolving,” Grochmal said of the organization, which celebrated its 19th year at the November 26 meeting. “We are a credible intervener.”
During the report on the Coalition’s activities over the past year, HRAI’s director of programs and relations Martin Luymes discussed the Enbridge Open Bill Program, which is in the final year for review. There was a strong desire to build on last year’s review and amendments, and the utility was very concerned about “bad actors” using questionable door-to-door sales tactics, he said.
“HVAC Coalition’s goal was to support appropriate punitive measures without penalizing small contractors,” he said, adding Enbridge wanted to make some changes at the last minute, but the issues were settled to everyone’s satisfaction.
Fellow HRAI staffer, Scott Papp, manager of divisional programs (contractors), presented on the Peer Exchange Program (PEP), a contractor to contractor information exchange and business networking program. Papp said the groups are typically made up of seven to 12 non-competing contractors, facilitated by HRAI, and can be provincial or national. PEP groups are self-funded, self-governed and must hold on-site meetings at member locations to review company policies. There are two groups operating in Ontario at the moment, both in the residential sector.
Rounding out the evening were several housekeeping matters, such as approving the minutes from last year’s annual meeting and the financial statements, as well as electing a board of directors for 2013-14.
Following the Coalition’s meeting, HRAI’s GTA chapter held it’s annual general meeting, and the evening concluded after Brian Morgan of the Morgan Group led a presentation and demonstration on polypropylene flue gas venting systems, including product applications, benefits and regulations in Canada.