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February 18, 2011 -
Today's tip: Look to electric utilities for incentives that can help cover the cost of retrocommissioning.
Retrocommissioning is a cost effective way to trim energy costs and improve building system performance. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the median payback time for a retrocommissioning project is slightly more than one year. In other words, the return on investment is nearly 100 percent.
But even an ROI like that may not be enough to win funds to conduct retrocommissioning. At an average cost of thirty cents per square foot, the price tag for a 100,000 square foot building is $30,000.
One way to reduce that cost and improve the chances for project approval is with utility incentives. In some states - notably California — utility incentives have been available to help cover the cost of commissioning. Other states that have offered utility incentives include Colorado, Minnesota, New York and Texas. For utilities the benefit is very simple: By reducing the amount of energy used by a facility, retrocommissioning offers a very cost-effective way to cut the demand on the utility infrastructure.
The retrocommissioning incentives are one element of the growing effort by many utilities to reduce electric consumption among commercial and institutional customers. Those incentives peaked during the 1990s, then dropped sharply as the electric industry deregulated. Since then, however, incentive programs and associated dollars have climbed steadily.
A federally funded website is one way to find out if your local utility offers an incentive for retrocommissioning. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy funds a national program called the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency - DSIRE, for short. Go to the organization's website, www.dsireusa.org, and click on the state or U.S. Territory to see a list of utility programs in that area.