When Time Stood Still, Did You? – Advanced Fuel Solutions

From the March/April 2020 issue of Indoor Comfort Marketing

Guest Commentary — Paul Nazzaro, Advanced Fuel Solutions, Inc.

When Time Stood Still, Did You?

Never have we needed each other more than we do now! For nearly two decades, market development efforts supporting Bioheat® commercialization have been progressive, ratable and significant. All were led by a minority of stakeholders that believe the home heating comfort industry needed bold change to avoid being legislated out of business.

The world around us is changing quickly. However, we have relied heavily on our past successes to define our models of the future. We’re just beginning to transcend the old way of thinking about change and the antiquated thinking about leadership with its focus on top-down hierarchy and planning. Unfortunately, this often drives shareholder value while stripping away employee motivation, value and satisfaction.

The industry is operating in limbo. It understands what worked before will not necessarily work forever—unsure of what the next iteration of our industry should look like. As a result, we tend to operate between these two worlds that can be best described as mediocrity, or worse, the possibility of self-destruction.

This mediocrity we find ourselves in is one where the same people are constantly jumping in to fight the fires facing the industry while countless watch from the sidelines, remaining indifferent to the need for change. Although convenient for those not called into action, or those choosing to sit out the fight, it establishes a sense of helplessness and disempowerment among them.

Starting now, we should move toward shared accountability where those normally making the first move to fight the fire pause, take a step back, and awaken the fire in sideline voyeurs. They need to join the fight so that industry-wide challenges are met with success through fresh minds and bodies.

On a recent visit to New York City, while enjoying a cup of morning coffee and the Wall Street Journal, I counted no less than five articles that reminded me how much the home comfort industry lags behind in aligning with proposed legislation to reduce its contribution to carbon.

Examples of some of those morning news briefs included, but were not limited to: Tesla Rides on Electric Hopes, Cheap Solar Power Challenges Coals Dominance in India, Bezos Pledges Billions to Climate Fight, Delta is Going Carbon Neutral, Blackrock Joining Climate Change Investing Pact and many more.

This is not just an international or national issue. Look at Brookline, Massachusetts. To reduce a major source of carbon emissions, residents have voted to ban the installation of heating oil and natural gas pipes in new buildings and in those undergoing extensive renovations. This is the first such prohibition in Massachusetts and likely not the last. Ask any industry state association leader what keeps them up at night and they will tell you the anti-carbon bills designed to wipe heating oil, natural gas and propane off the map—while they usher in the era of electrification.

As we move towards the second quarter of 2020, we are coming off what is trending to be a mild winter. Market consolidation continues, legislative activities driven to eradicate heating oil prevail and many industry state associations are exhausting resources as they battle state houses and regulators. They are asking legislators to be rational and to allow our industry the opportunity to state why we matter. They need to understand why we should be considered a viable option in a low-carbon society. We can do this by keeping our customers warm and safe with the delivery of higher and higher blends of low carbon liquid fuels, a.k.a., Bioheat®.

It’s interesting to hear from industry supply chain participants as they share their thoughts on moving from carbon intensive fuels to low carbon fuels. Some suggest retail fuel dealers simply aren’t asking for it. Others are uncomfortable with the timeline being imposed by legislators to move to net zero (sooner than later). Retail fuel dealers say they can’t get Bioheat® in their markets. Biodiesel producers suggest if the liquid home comfort industry committed to higher blends, they would make it available.

Heating equipment companies, in general, support up to 20% blends with current equipment. Some, however, do not and have not taken steps to offer components that can be upgraded to accommodate their current equipment.

Negative rhetoric coming from the field continues from various sources; blogs contain uncontested and unsubstantial comments that denounce this fuel and countless reasons why it’s not the right fuel. This is simply reckless and negatively impacting our movement towards a sustainable future.

NEWS FLASH! The past is not a good model for planning your future. It’s a new day, new rules, new leaders and to suggest that ULSHO, standing alone, is our future is shortsighted. The choice must be made—be part of the problem or step up and become a part of the solution.

Rearview Mirror thinking is what’s holding us back. This thinking causes a reliance on challenged liquid fuels as a means of framing the future and shaping the vision of where you are and where you need to be. NEWS FLASH! The past is not a good model for planning your future. It’s a new day, new rules, new leaders and to suggest that ULSHO, standing alone, is our future is shortsighted—comparable to flying a white flag over your businesses.

There is overwhelming evidence that legislative activity is going continue to push heating oil out of favor. With low-carbon liquid fuels, we have a solution in-hand and a fighting chance. With the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit in place for three years, now is the time for us to accelerate our planning and execution to meet the objectives defined in the Providence Resolution*, or variations of it.

To satisfy the carbon reduction targets, the industry needs to transition to B20 Bioheat, which is trademarked Bioheat Plus™, by 2023; B50 by 2030 and proceed to net zero by 2050.
Our future remains in peril when we choose to remain idle and play the waiting game. Who will make the first move, the retail dealer, the terminal owner, the biodiesel producer or a handful of committed leaders that sorely need an infusion of fresh supporters to continue the fight? From this point of view, we need to work together. This is not one individual fight, it is an industry’s fight.

Remember the phase “Situation, Solution & Strategy:” the situation was bleak, the solution is in-hand and the strategy remains to work together to have seat at the table so we can share the compelling story with legislators and our customers—why Bioheat® is the right choice. ICM

For more information, marketing tools, guidance or just to share an observation please contact Paul Nazzaro, 978- 880-5338 or write to: paulsr@yourfuelsolution.com. NEWS FLASH! The past is not a good model for planning your future. It’s a new day, new rules, new leaders and to suggest that ULSHO, standing alone, is our future is shortsighted.

* Passed by members of the New England Fuel Institute calling for a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2023, a 40% reduction by 2030, and net-zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

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