Utility Incentives: Systems and Opportunities
Managers who understand what utility incentives apply to their facility based on needs, can better deliver bottom-line benefits.
Incentives are available for upgrades to lighting, variable-speed drives, and end-of-life replacements for central plant equipment. For hospitals, one common opportunity is to upgrade pneumatic controls to direct digital controls. Common targets in data centers include central controls systems for cooling and strategies to improve air management.
Prescriptive incentive opportunities are provided for such equipment as lighting fixtures and bulbs, ice machines, refrigerators, dishwashers and other kitchen equipment, high-efficiency pumps, HVAC units, and chillers. Projects that can estimate, measure and verify energy savings might be eligible for custom incentives.
Many states, local utilities and the federal government offer incentives for new and existing buildings. While incentives are not always cure-alls for tight budgets, they are an important strategy to research for improving return on investment. Managers can learn about available incentives by searching in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency — www.dsireusa.org — or the Federal Energy Management Program - https://energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-incentive-programs.
Utility account representatives can be important allies in finding financial aid options. Establishing a close link to them during planning — and identifying a champion to be the ongoing liaison can pay off. Utilities might be able to offer pilot opportunities and creative ways to assist in funding projects.
Another proactive approach for managers is to partner with their organizations’ finance department to ensure that facilities managers can monitor and maintain incentive funds. Particularly in large organizations, these funds might be deposited into a general account, never to be seen or leveraged by the facilities department. Getting them routed into a specific cost center, for example, can help managers not only monitor the amounts but also justify and fund future projects.
— Shannon Bunsen, John Bruschi and Troy Savage