After receiving information from representatives of the pool/spa service, distribution and manufacturing segments, Southern California Edison has decided against re-opening its pump rebate program to pool/spa service and contracting firms.

This dealt a disappointing blow to companies who promoted the rebates in parts of Southern and Central California.

In February, the industry learned that SCE changed its rebate process, stating that a pool/spa company must have at least one retail location to offer rebates on pool pumps. The utility also ended its field-verification program, whereby SCE would certify service techns to install the pumps.

So far, only Leslie’s Poolmart locations have been registered and approved to provide the SCE pump-rebate program.

Earlier in March, the industry met with an SCE official to explain how the pool industry works, in the hopes that service and construction companies would be allowed to participate. Industry officials also had several follow-up conversations with the SCE, as well as the California Utility Commission and one senator's office, said Jerry Wallace, chairman of the California Pool & Spa Industry Association (CPSA).

"We are very disappointed in this decision," Wallace said. "The coalition that met with SCE provide a very good option that would meet their desire for a mid-stream program. ... The group that met with SCE did an excellent job and thanks to them for their efforts. The industry did all that we could that is practical."

In a letter advising the industry of its final decision, SCE said that it would provide information on its website advising consumers to hire a qualified pool/spa professional to install the pumps. The utility said it would help consumers find pool professionals by providing with links to various industry websites that contain a locator tool. The utility also said it considered ending the program altogether, as other utilities have, but decided to keep it at least for 2019.

“The California Pool & Spa Association is not finished with this matter,” said its chairman, Jerry Wallace. “We are exploring our options and will proceed with any practical options that we come up with to put the rest of the swimming pool industry on a level playing field ...”

SCE, which says it's one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., covers a 50,000-square-mile area within central, coastal and Southern California and claims to serve more than 15 million people. Some of the larger counties served include Orange, San Bernardino, Inyo and parts of Los Angeles.

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