Utility Incentives and Rebates: Smart Planning, Big Savings
By Brian Griffith - October 2012 - Energy Efficiency
The most cost-effective way for any utility company to reduce capital costs for infrastructure is to reduce the demand for energy. The most cost-effective way to achieve this goal is to promote and fund energy-saving measures in new construction and retrofit applications in institutional and commercial facilities. To interest facilities in curtailing energy use, utility companies nationwide are offering rebates and incentives for a variety of energy-saving measures.
These programs offer maintenance and engineering managers and their organizations an opportunity to secure funding for projects their organizations otherwise might not consider financially viable. While these programs normally will not cover the entire cost of a specific upgrade, they can reduce the cost to a level that is more financially compelling.
By understanding the way utilities organize, structure, and manage these programs, managers can more effectively optimize the outcomes to meet the needs of their organizations.
Understanding The Process
Most rebates are considered prescriptive, meaning they allow the utility companies to cost-effectively manage a set of standard options that most facilities typically use to reduce energy use. To take advantage of other, non-standard opportunities to save energy, utility companies also offer customized incentives, which normally require some form of energy modeling or calculations.
Utility companies typically structure incentive programs by system type, with the primary groups targeting lighting, HVAC, data center/information technology, and refrigeration equipment. Other opportunities, such as high-efficiency motors and transformers, either can be prescriptive or customized, depending upon the utility.
Some utility companies provide both gas and electrical service, while other regions have separate providers for each. Incentives targeting gas savings typically target heat- and hot-water-generating equipment, while electrical savings opportunities are spread across a much broader spectrum.
One effective first step is to review online information to better understand a utility's specific programs. Doing so will open up the discussion within the organization about representation, consultant use, and process management.