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Utility Incentives Can Help Cover Cost Of Energy Efficiency Projects

When Columbia University upgraded its water-chilling system, including new metering equipment and programming software, so it can track and control energy use within the chiller plant, the upgrade came with a $2.25 million price tag. But Columbia got an early return on its investment in the form of incentives of $469,000 from its local utility, Consolidated Edison, commonly known as Con Ed.

Most facility managers realize utilities offer incentives. Still, sometimes there are misperceptions about the full range of utility incentives. Not having a full understanding of how utility incentives work can mean a facility passes up not only on rebates that can help defray costs of the project but also on useful technical advice about energy upgrades.

Incentives can cover a significant portion of the cost of an energy-efficiency upgrade. For example, Showman Fabricators — a company that provides fabrication services, including sets, for a wide range of customers such as television shows, movies, and plays — put in new energy-efficient controls and motors in its facility in the New York City borough of Queens. The upgrades cost $42,800, but the company was able to offset some of that with $12,000 in Con Ed incentives.

"Businesses can get incentives from us for installing new, energy-efficient equipment that will save them energy and money," says Drury. "The payback on the business' initial investment can be quick. Once the business recoups its initial investment, the monthly energy savings are like found money. It’s money the business can invest in employees, research and development, new products, or any other expense."

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