Who's Who at HPC: Joe Cullen
Joe Cullen is the Director of Policy and State Outreach for HPC, and works with state governments and public utility commissions to reform cost effectiveness testing regulations and advance economic development programs that create jobs through residential energy efficiency initiatives. Cullen is currently leading HPC’s efforts on the National Efficiency Screening Project that released a new, comprehensive National Standard Practice Manual on May 17, 2017. The new Manual provides state and local jurisdictions guidance on updating their approaches toward energy efficiency program funding. Cullen previously served as a policy and budget director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Clinton administration, as the Governor’s Policy Director in Pennsylvania under Governor Robert P. Casey and as an economic development/energy consultant to Governors Richardson (New Mexico), Ritter (Colorado), Manchin (West Virginia) and Culver (Iowa).
1) What do you enjoy the most about your role at HPC?
Working with state and local economic development and energy agencies and officials is very rewarding. Virtually every state is moving forward with new and innovative programs to advance their energy production, distribution and conservation programs. Many states are pursuing policies and programs in a non-partisan manner that may be “flying under the radar” right now, but eventually could serve as national models for creating jobs in energy efficiency, energy production, energy storage and/or modernizing the electrical grid. It has been particularly rewarding to see how many states are discovering the job creating role that residential energy efficiency plays in economic development planning. As of January 2017, over 2.1 million Americans were employed in energy efficiency industries, by far the fastest growing part of the new “clean energy” business sector. In residential energy efficiency, these are jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas, as the current U.S. housing stock offers many attractive investment opportunities.
2) What is your proudest accomplishment at HPC?
There have been a number of very rewarding activities at HPC, but one day in particular summarizes the work we try to accomplish. On March 29, 2017, HPC and EF Maryland helped organize an EmPower Education Day in Annapolis and brought in twenty energy efficiency contractors to meet with Maryland administration officials and legislators. The home energy contractors split into four groups, attended meetings with 36 key state legislators and their staff and very effectively described the importance of the EmPOWER residential energy efficiency programs to their businesses and communities. While there were a number of non-profit organizations working with HPC to support EmPower, and there is plenty of credit to go around, the home energy contractors played a critical role in making sure that the Maryland EmPower program was extended for three more years. No one can explain why residential energy efficiency programs benefit everyone (rate payers, utilities, customers, the environment, etc.) better than small business contractors.
3) What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Four years ago, my daughter Kate asked me whether I wanted to run in the first ever Scranton PA Half Marathon. My son Will and daughter Kate were both soccer players and track team members in high school, so the question was not a big surprise. However, I think everyone in my family was a little bit shocked when I said “yes.” Truth be told, I grew up in Scranton and always meant to run in the Scranton/Steamtown Full Marathon, but had never gotten around to it. So, since the April 2014 Scranton Half Marathon, I have “gotten the bug” and have now run in three Marathons (2 in Scranton and 1 in Boston) and three Half Marathons (all Scranton). This July 23rd, at some awful, early hour (the race starts at 5:30AM), Kate and I will be crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Half Marathon.
4) Tell us a fun fact about yourself we may not know.
I grew up in Scranton, attended a Jesuit High School, and after college served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Piura, Peru . I worked as a high school teacher at a Jesuit high school in the northern coastal area of Peru. I had to learn Spanish very quickly (2 and ½ months) to get ready for classes. Since I was about the only North American in town, I had to speak Spanish 24/7, like it or not. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the “immersion” process at the time, by the first day of classes, I was able to get by. Over the course of a year and a 1/2, Spanish became pretty much my only means of communication. Peru is a fascinating and incredibly diverse geographical nation. Someday, I would love to return as a volunteer and get back to the classroom.