The battle to preserve oil heat’s market share has received a major boost with the appointment of former Carlin Combustion Technology Executive Vice President and General Manager Thomas J. Tubman as executive director of the American Energy Coalition (AEC).
Tubman’s passion for oil heat and his wealth of connections in every corner of the industry are vital to the cause. The coalition’s mission is to serve as a unified voice in promoting oil heat in direct competition with natural gas and other fuels.
“The top priority is stop the loss of oil-heated homes to competing fuels,” said Tubman. “The first part is getting the message out to people who heat with oil that it’s a great fuel. We want to let them know the benefits of oil heat and to correct the record about the gas utilities and the false advertising they put out.”
With 39 years’ experience in oil heat, Tubman has taken many leadership roles in the industry’s most important initiatives, including the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and the Oilheat Manufacturers Association (OMA). He is well prepared to unite oil heat dealers, trade associations, manufacturers and other stakeholders in the competitive struggle.
In addition to educating consumers, the coalition will target a larger audience. “We have to get the message out to the environmental community and the legislative community so that they understand that oil heat is a good fuel. We also have to make sure we continue to compile the facts and do the research. Oil is changing, and so is gas. We’re making our fuel more environmentally friendly, while gas is bringing in more LNG and using fracking in the Marcellus Shale, which is not friendly to the environment. We’re pretty close to being on par with natural gas now, and in the next 10 years we’ll be in a better position, and they’ll be in a worse position.”
The AEC has a big job ahead, according to Tubman. “The oil heat community needs to do a better job of getting the message out. Nancy Pelosi didn’t even know that natural gas is a fossil fuel. It’s hard to make good policy with misinformation at the legislative level. Natural gas has done a good job of marketing as a clean, efficient fuel, and they have drawn attention away from the fact that natural gas combustion produces CO2 the same as oil.”
He cited National Grid’s Floe the Polar Bear campaign and the $200 million campaign by America’s Natural Gas Alliance as examples of the aggressive marketing by the gas industry. “We certainly need money to fight that,” Tubman said. “We need help from oil dealers, tank suppliers, software suppliers…everyone who has a stake in oil heat.”
He strongly recommends that oil heat dealers communicate effectively with homeowners. “Companies can use the materials that we have put together to send a strong message out to their customers. They can use our website to educate themselves. We can also provide training. We want to make sure that when people contact an oil heat company and ask questions that they get the correct answers.”
The AEC has three bill inserts or leave behinds available that correct the record about natural gas. The coalition also produced advertisements, including a television commercial than ran recently in Rhode Island and which can be seen on the coalition’s website, <i>www.AmericanEnergyCoalition.org</i>. The AEC site also contains a wealth of comparative information about oil heat and natural gas that will benefit anyone who advocates for oil heat. “Everyone who has contact with customers – including installers and technicians – should know the facts and what to say to customers,” Tubman said.
The AEC will have a booth at the oil heat tradeshows this year, and Tubman is making the rounds now to talk with association groups. “We’re trying to raise our visibility and let people know about all the good work we’ve done already,” he said. “When I talk to groups about getting everyone pulling in the same direction, they get it. They understand that we’re at a critical point and that we need to do this as a team.”