Energy Efficiency Incentives and Rebates Require Time Investment
Utilities restrict participation in rebate programs to customers within their service territories. They might restrict participation to customers that rely on not only the utility's distribution service, but also its generation services.
It is not unusual for programs to limit individual applications or the extent of customer participation — for example, a dollar value per motor horsepower. Another example of a limit is a fixed dollar value for the purchase of lamps and ballasts or on the overall cost of an associated lighting retrofit. For custom incentive programs, the cap could be based on dollars per watt or dollars per Btu saved up to a maximum value.
When requesting a rebate, managers need to provide some, if not all, of the following information and documentation:
- a signed rebate application
- a utility account number
- a copy of receipt or invoice stating where the equipment was purchased
- documentation the purchase was for a retrofit or replacement, not a new installation
- the purchase date
- the name of the contractor that serviced or installed the equipment
- the service or installation date
- testing, verification, or validation documentation, if applicable.
Utilities also might require that the facility continue to operate or exist for a set period, particularly for customized programs. This requirement ensures continuity, project completion, and relative permanence of occupancy of the structure in which the system is installed.
Before submitting an application for a customized incentive, managers should contact the utility. To qualify for the program, managers might need to meet specific pre- and post-installation requirements. Utilities usually post instructions on their web sites and list additional details and contact information.
When scheduling an application for a rebate or incentive, managers must plan ahead. Many programs expire on a calendar or a fiscal-year date. Some programs have limited funding and effectively expire when funds run out. Managers must be sure their organizations can fulfill the program requirements and can submit the necessary application before the program's deadline. It is worth contacting the utility company and asking about the future of its programs in terms of schedule, funding, and payment terms and turn-around.
Building a team
The first key player in the rebate process is the maintenance and engineering manager. These programs are voluntary, so participation requires initiative and the investment of time and resources. Considering the number of programs available, the utility probably has a rebate or incentive that is suitable for any facility, but managers need to initiate the process.
Within the facility, key players also include the chief financial officer, as well as all of those involved in the purchasing and maintenance for the facility. For organizations with consulting engineer, managers might want to engage these people for their experience and expertise in identifying and prioritizing potential projects and submitting the application.
Other key players include the utility's customer-service representatives who specialize in rebate programs. If the facility's service meets certain size requirements, the utility might have a dedicated customer service representative.
Managers also should consider working with energy service companies and integrators that provide installation and bundling services, which can minimize the first cost of installation by assuming most or all of the installation costs with the contract commitment of receiving the rebate. These agreements also will carry payment terms for the balance of any installation cost. These terms might be an outright loan or be tied to the project energy savings.