Ask your utility about incentives
Many states and local utilities offer incentives and rebates for facility equipment upgrades or custom expansion projects. While these incentives differ from utility to utility, most are based on the customer’s ability to demonstrate its reduction in consumption of kilowatt hours. Having an energy-efficient facility may also qualify a company for more favorable pricing or even free kilowatt hours.
One handy resource for plant managers is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency site. As its name implies, the DSIRE site provides information about renewable energy and energy-efficiency incentives and policies across the United States. Relevant incentives established by federal government, state government, local government, and nonprofit organizations and utilities are included; however, utilities with less than 30,000 customers are generally not covered. Clicking a state on the DSIRE homepage provides a list of incentives offered by the type of program (e.g., tax credit or rebate), implementing sector (state or utility), eligible sectors (commercial), and eligible technologies (insulation) in that state.
A search tool on the homepage also exists for plant managers looking for specific criteria (e.g., state, technology and type of incentive). Summary maps provide a geographical overview of certain financial incentives, while summary tables provide an overview of renewable energy and energy-efficiency incentives.
Here are several examples of energy-efficiency incentive programs from different parts of the country:
Wisconsin: The Focus on Energy program provides financial incentives for commercial building upgrades ranging from agricultural to municipal to industrial. Specifically, it helps offset costs associated with purchasing efficiency-enhancing replacement equipment like lighting, motors, and HVAC, or up to 30% of the project costs for nonstandard energy conservation measures. Any facility using up to an average of 1,000 kW per month in the past year is eligible for the program; some plans need to be pre-approved. Businesses will receive a check from Focus on Energy if paperwork is submitted within 60 days of installation of energy-efficient equipment.
California: Silicon Valley Power’s Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program provides commercial business customers with up to a $47,500 rebate if their building meets LEED criteria and exceeds Title 24 energy requirements by at least 10%. All projects must be pre-approved; a pre-site inspection must be completed within six months of new equipment installation and a post-site inspection must be conducted within one month of installation. Detailed dated copies of all invoices must be submitted along with pertinent equipment data/cut sheets within two months of installation.
Texas/Austin Energy’s Commercial Energy Management Rebate Program offers various ways for businesses to save money if energy-efficiency steps are taken, including HVAC equipment upgrades. Austin Energy can offer between $150 and $300 for every kW in energy saved, up to $200,000 or 50% of the project’s cost, whichever is less. An application must be submitted before any work is done, as well as a pre- and post-site inspection.