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Part 1: Look For Utility Rebates Early In Energy Efficiency Projects
By Maryellen Lo Bosco
February 2013 -
HEI Hotels and Resorts has received more than $1.2 million in demand-side management energy rebates since 2005, reports Bob Holesko, vice president of facilities. But those funds haven't just landed on Holesko's desk. Rather, HEI has had to find ways to tap into programs from coast to coast. Doing that has paid off. Consider a rebate program called Efficiency Vermont, in which the state will allow companies to continually upgrade their systems, even on a small scale. Under that program, the facility manager at the Equinox Resort can buy $300 worth of lamps and get a check. "It's the only program of its kind that I know of where you can get a rebate at any time," Holesko says. This allows the facility manager to change out fixtures on his own time schedule, when he can fit them into the budget.
Utilities are investing heavily in rebates and other incentives for energy efficiency in buildings. But tapping into that pool of money isn't always easy for facility managers. A big challenge is learning about programs in time to qualify.
It's become much more common for companies to explore rebate opportunities before embarking on efficiency upgrades, says Ross Cowan, director of sales and business development at RealWinWin. Companies have a better understanding about how substantial the rebates can be: They can cover 10 to 20 percent of capital equipment cost and can go as high as 50 percent, and rebate programs exist in most population centers in North America. "Better education exists around the country," Cowan says.
The first step is identifying what's out there. A good place to start is with the Department of Energy's dsireusa.org website. For companies operating in multiple areas, it may make sense to work with a third party that identifies rebates and manages the process of obtaining them.
Part 2: Utility Incentives Can Mean Millions Of Dollars In Savings