monthly savings and rebates!?! sounds too good to be true…
Before we get too far into the nitty-gritty details on how to recoup some of the dollars you’re investing in energy-efficient lighting fixtures, bulbs, and controls through electric utility provider rebates, let’s first answer the seemingly counterintuitive question of: Why do electric utility providers want to pay me to buy less of the product they are selling me?
The short answer is because they have to. Pennsylvania’s Act 129 (Act 129) legislation mandated that all major electric providers reduce electric consumption and peak demands. Act 129 gradually increases the reduction amounts throughout a defined period of phases, of which, June 1, 2016 marked the start of the third and final phase of Act 129, which will run through May 31, 2021. So, in order to comply, they are sweetening the deal to businesses (and homeowners) by providing rebates on energy saving upgrades so they can comply with the Act 129 regulations. Just in case you’re feeling bad for the electric providers, don’t worry; Act 129 is funded by all electric customers in the Commonwealth, through fees, so the only way to recoup the money you’re already paying in, is through taking advantage of these rebates and incentives.
We’re going to focus on lighting, but in a nutshell, any replacement of equipment that saves electricity will be eligible for rebates. Each electric provider has its own classifications and itemized standards, and allowances for replacing things like fixtures, HVAC equipment, controls, etc. – but they all have a “custom” program option that serves as a “catch-all” to allow for anything not specifically listed to be eligible for rebates, based on kWhs saved the first year. Also, if you’re expanding with new construction, most electric utility providers provide rebates and incentives for new construction that exceeds ASHRAE or IECC standards and/or LEED® buildings.
step into the light…
As for lighting, the standard options cover many things like bulbs, interior and exterior fixtures, and controls. Looking at Duquesne Light Company’s rebate sheet, you can earn back as little as $1 for installing a screw-in CFL bulb, to $110 for an interior pulse start, metal halide fixture greater than 749W. But, that’s just the start of the money you can earn back; dollars add up quickly when you start using the calculated incentives offered.
Calculated incentives vary slightly by electric provider (or course), but generally pay $.05 per kWh saved during the first year. Those pennies add up quickly when you start talking about comprehensive renovation projects. For example, we recently renovated our 25,000 sq.ft. office, replacing 2x4’ T8 and T12 lights, with 30 watt LED fixtures, and adding occupancy sensors, significantly reducing the kWh and earning over $10,000 in rebates for the building owner.
maximize your lighting rebates – what we look at...
Here are some tips and considerations to help you maximize your lighting rebates:
- Are your current light levels appropriate for the tasks performed in the space? A trap that sometimes facility owners can fall into is simply replacing the existing fixture wattage with the same estimate wattage from an LED. Check the light levels first; maybe you don’t even need that may fixtures in the hallway that has 50 footcandles when only 10 footcandles are needed. This reduction of fixtures, with no replacement, puts 100% of the existing kWhs toward your rebate.
- Are your lights on even when you’re not there? Occupancy sensors on individual or groups of fixtures can have a big reduction in kWh, depending on your space’s configuration.
- Sun’s out, lights on? Photo controls can automatically dim or turn off lights when the daylight is ample enough to provide some, or full illumination, of the space.
when to apply?
Final applications for rebates are submitted after your project is completed. Although it is a good idea to review your provider’s requirements before you start construction, you can submit a preliminary application at this time.
This is a good idea for three reasons: (1) you lock in your piece of the pie – the total Act 129 rebate funds are capped, so they can run out. If you have a preliminary application in, your utility provider can budget funds for your project, effectively locking them in for you. (2) working with your utility provider beforehand ensures that you’re collecting all the data they require as you’re going, rather than having to circle back and start from the beginning once the project is over; and finally (3) doing this, you’ll also be able to have a good estimate of what your rebates will total, which is great information to have when soliciting for project funds or additional budget.
how to apply?
Every electric utility provider has slightly different requirements (you should be noticing a pattern here by now). Find your provider’s website below, and review their application process to get the ball rolling!
Whether you’re thinking about a lighting project, but don’t know where to start, curious about how much energy you could save, or are just tripping over some calculations – our doors are always open, just reach out, tell us your ideas, needs, or frustrations, we’re here to help you.
contact us request a lighting evaluation join enews
lighting services lighting projects