MACC News: Editor's Notes: Summer 2020 Vol. 2

Editor's Notes: Summer 2020 Vol. 2

Editor's Notes: Anthony Carbone

The “dog days” of summer certainly permeated the months of June, July, and now even August with 18 days of over 90-degree temperatures as of August 12th. 

The HVAC industry came out of the dark days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as the Memorial holiday hit, warm temperatures prevailed, jump-starting business that badly needed the infusion of revenue.

The employees were called back from unemployment and furlough. The wheels were turning at full throttle for many, especially in the resident HVAC circles where many people were working from home and required additional air conditioning systems to supplement the existing systems, especially where many set up home offices to work from. The local utilities were promoting rebates for heat-pump systems. This is a push to get homeowners away from the use of fossil fuel systems. Ductless air conditioning systems are making their way into many homes. 

But then a sudden development occurs on Tues., Aug. 4th. The tri-state area got pummeled by a tropical storm Isaias, where 70 mile per hour winds tore throughout the area, knocking down thousands of trees. These downed trees and high winds knocked over trees into electrical supply lines. Thousands of homes were hit with the loss of power which included telephone and internet. Since most are using power from Fios, an Optimum cable, the home telephone lines were also devastated. The number of power outages on Long Island and Westchester and parts of Queens were devastating with many without power for 7-8 days in the sweltering heat of over 90-degree temperatures and record-breaking humidity. The utilities such as ConEdison and PSEG seem to be paralyzed. Although many propaganda public relation emails went out to tell you how ready the electric utilities were ready for the impending storm, the evident fact was-they were not. The Long Island region on the North Shore were waiting to see the PSEG utility trucks which were nowhere to be found.  Many told me this is worse than super storm Sandy. One utility worker told me the hard hat logos may have changed, but the men on the ground are the same. The executives have changed names, but the oversight was worse than ever. Many out of state utilities assisted, as well as it’s subcontractors were being employed to assist, but the mobilization took days to get in order. Many subcontractors were “walking the lines” and were waiting on instructions from superiors and executives. So. . . LIPA has competition for poor response and poor preparedness. . . It’s PSEG. Maybe the name “Worry Free” should be changed to “Worry Some.” 

This sudden August tropical storm reignited the race and need for natural gas stand-by generators. Many who had them installed previously suddenly learned that these 600 lb. power generator plants require maintenance. Those who thought they would never experience another outage like Sandy since the electrical Grid was revitalized over the past years. Well, what a wake-up call this was. Mix this with the heat wave and the pandemic and you end with chaos and fear. No one wanted to leave their homes unattended and potentially expose themselves to the virus. Elderly were left with no communication, no air conditioning, no alarm system, no cable TV, no telephone and cell phone towers were sparse and damaged in certain areas. This was truly devastation from a tropical storm with an ill-prepared utility. Now, granted that this is somewhat unpredictable. The communication aspect from the utilities was sparse and very unspecific. 

Some residential contractors that also installed natural gas, stand-by generators saw a bonanza of business from people who revived the past proposals for a generator, while others immediately received new estimates and began the process of an installation. This provides peace of mind for many who recently heard on the weather forecasts that a series of tropical storms and hurricanes are headed this way. 

Who knows what September has in store for HVAC contractors as these are tumultuous times. We need to protect our industry from unfair competition and cross-subsidization from utilities, especially the HomeServe competition that is allowed to masquerade as PSEG; this is a mask they may not want to wear this month as significant criticism has come across the media airwaves. 

Stay tuned and give us your opinions. . . 

Anthony Carbone
Systematic Control Corp. 

Editor's Notes: Jason Staiano

We are definitely in new uncharted territory in regards to the Covid world we live in. Even as some normalcy is returning to our part of the country, we are certainly far from the way it was. Masks are the new normal, greeting someone with or without a hand shake can be awkward, social distancing everywhere, and let’s not forget the new issue of dry hands because of constant hand washing and hand sanitizer. So needless to say, pre-COVID was way better.  

What’s next for the new normal? Well, travel is not as easy as it use to be, since the number of flights to anywhere are greatly reduced. Work travel is down, and besides who really wants to travel and stay in hotels when COVID is still a threat. The next thing that seems to being pushed on everyone are virtual trade shows. Educational conventions when you listen to speakers can most certainly be accomplished virtually. But when it’s trying to be attempted when the standard format are booth spaces set up in a large convention center and attendees walk around and get to see what companies are offering, then expecting that to be translated to a virtual format is not going to be easy. 

It’s understandable as to why it’s being tried, a lot of trade shows are just another business trying to save their business. But sadly, those businesses might be another casualty of COVID. Even if they were able to put on a show at a convention center next month or in 2 months or 4 months, a lot of people might not feel very confident in attending a large gathering of that sort. What are your thoughts about attending a trade show? Visit our members section on Facebook and take the poll that is posted there. 


Jason Staiano 
National Compressor Exchange, Inc.

Featured in MACC News Summer 2020 Volume 2