You Should Know This When It Comes to Utility Rebates

This is one of the most overlooked items when applying for rebates – don’t let it happen to you.

Rebate Caps.

If you’re working on a project and already committed the rebate amount to your customer without determining if there is a rebate cap, you may decide to make up the difference when the amount is capped or you could have an unhappy customer – either scenario is not good. Use Encentivizer™ and avoid being in the dark about rebate program caps.

Whether you work in one territory or many, we can help you avoid this situation. Contact us today to learn more >

Surprisingly, you don’t often hear the term “rebate caps” mentioned. This information is not always prominently communicated by rebate programs and can sometimes only be found in the program manual or the terms and conditions. Unless you are prepared and informed about caps during the rebate process then when you do encounter them,  it’s usually not under favorable circumstances. These caps are not implemented at all utilities, but a lot of programs do have some metric in place. In our experience, programs with smaller budgets usually implement caps to preserve funds for more customers. Beyond equitable funding, some programs do it so customers cannot get their equipment for free – most utility programs do not  want to completely subsidize the cost of  the energy efficiency upgrade.

So, what is a rebate cap? Quite simply, it is a maximum limit placed on the rebate amount that can be paid out for an energy efficiency upgrade. Utilities use caps to limit the amount of rebate money they pay out to a specific customer or for a specific project. For example, say you’re working with a school district with 9 different accounts within one utility. If the utility has a rebate cap by customer, you would not be able to receive more than a fixed dollar amount in rebates – regardless of how many accounts they have.

Most rebate caps have some type of limitation, either by project or customer (this list is not all inclusive):

  • The percent of product cost (this is just the equipment you are purchasing)
  • The percent of total installed cost (this is the equipment you are purchasing plus installation)
  • A fixed amount on how many rebate dollars a customer can be given in a certain period of time; typically annual
  • Based on how it affects the payback for the new measure

Here are some scenarios we’ve come across:

Scenario 1: A customer of ours was ready to present the estimate to their customer when they ran it by us. It was a utility that had a cap that was based on product cost (75%) which reduced the overall rebate. This could have turned out to be a headache to deal with – overstating the rebate and what’s available can be frustrating for the customer. Encentivizer prevented this problem by informing them of the cap details so they did not present the incorrect rebate amount to their customer.

Scenario 2: A current customer submitted the rebate to the utility and found out from the utility that the cap reduced the rebate amount and called us to find out why. We went over what they had submitted to the utility and went through the program details with them in Encentivizer. As it turns out, they didn’t include the installation costs for this project. Once we told them they could do that, they were able to submit that information and the cap no longer impacted the rebate amount.

Have more questions about Rebate Caps? We can help. Get in touch with us today.

Ask a question now or have someone call you

 

Encentivizer™ Product Awareness: New Interactive Map Feature

Featuring a New Interactive Map to Easily See Which States are Offering the Highest Rebate Amount for a Specific Product

Encentiv Energy’s Encentivizer Product Awareness has a new feature: an interactive map of the United States and Canada. This allows Encentivizer Product Awareness users to easily see where the highest rebates are on a beautiful blue-gradient color-coded map. This is the industry’s first product of its kind and it makes it simple to pinpoint where to focus sales and marketing efforts. The all-new map makes discovering rebates for lighting measures easier than ever before.

 

Encentivizer Product Awareness Map feature
New Product Awareness Map features a gradient color-coded map that easily allows you to see the locations with the highest rebates.

 

“This is a great overview for sales teams and lighting manufacturers, but anyone that uses Product Awareness will be excited about it because it gives them the freedom to look at rebates two ways – on the map and the list view. When a user clicks on a state or territory the list of rebates is automatically filtered for utilities that are only in that state or territory. It’s easy to toggle between the United States and Canada too. I had a lot of customer feedback to work with for the UI on this upgrade and I was really thrilled about that,” said Jeremy Struhar, Product Manager.

 

USA and Canada Buttons for Product Awareness Map
Easily toggle between the US and Canada to change the map or list view to show only that location.

 

Get quick access to optimized rebate information (weighted average rebate amount and the number of eligible rebate programs) by hovering your mouse over a state or territory. A small pop-up will appear with this information displayed so users don’t have to have click to see this meaningful information.

 

Hover over any state or territory and see the weighted average of the rebates and the number of eligible rebate programs.

 

This incredibly innovative and highly requested feature now allows users to be more efficient and create a continuous flow of rebate intelligence for their products. Make discovering utility rebates easier than ever before with Encentivizer Product Awareness.

Learn more about Encentiv Energy, the Encentivizer Platform.

Don’t want to wait? Get this must-have product right now. Contact us today!

Energy Star®: Driving energy savings AND rebates

So, what does ENERGY STAR have to do with Encentiv Energy? Encentivizer (Encentiv Energy’s best-in-industry utility rebate intelligence platform) integrates ENERGY STAR’s information so that users can get this data in the rebate calculator. The entire product catalog is in Encentivizer and updated regularly so you will never miss an ENERGY STAR product update or new catalog version. You have confidence that the quotes you are sending out are products with eligible rebates. See more information about the ENERGY STAR list requirements and learn more about their product catalog: https://www.energystar.gov/products.

Energy Star and Encentiv EnergyENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. It’s a continuously updated resource and they just released their latest lamp specification Version 2.1 as of June 2017 which increased the quality minimums for LED lamps.

ENERGY STAR tools and resources help businesses determine cost-effective approaches to managing energy use in their buildings and plants—enabling the private sector to save energy, increase profits, and strengthen their competitiveness. From commercial properties such as hospitals, schools, and offices, to industrial facilities such as cookie and cracker bakeries and integrated steel mills, thousands of businesses and organizations look to ENERGY STAR for guidance on strategic energy management.

Lighting projects are in many cases available for Midstream rebates. (Midstream rebates are instant rebates available at the point-of-sale through a distributor.) The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® online tool allows you to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. It’s used to track energy performance of nearly 500,000 commercial buildings – representing 50% of all commercial floor space across the U.S. You can use it to manage the energy and water use of any building and to benchmark the performance of one building or an entire portfolio. You will need energy bills and some basic information about your building to get started.

Top-performing buildings and plants can earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR, which, for certain property types such as commercial real estate, has been shown to command a premium of up to 16 percent for sales prices and rental rates. Learn more about ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

You can also import your portfolio from ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager into Encentivizer Portfolio Awareness and streamline efficiency for multi-site projects that may or may not be located in one utility territory. See which locations offer the highest rebates and prioritize project rollout plans to maximize ROI.

See Encentivizer’s Portfolio Awareness

 

Source Site: https://www.energystar.gov/

By Mike Cham, CTO

Dead End: Looking for Utility Rebates Online

By Jeremy Struhar, Product Manager

The typical process of looking for energy efficiency rebate information is frustrating, complex, and time consuming. Let’s say you are on a manufacturer’s website and want to learn more about rebates for their products. One scenario might be that their site offers a Resources section that directs you to DSIRE’s website to get that information. Or maybe you visited DSIRE’s website directly 

DSIRE

to try and find the information, but you’re met with a long list of options, after you enter a zip code, that take time to sort through and it may not even be the most up-to-date information. Perhaps you call the utility directly to figure out the rebate? It can feel like a dead end. More questions might even start popping up…What if you don’t have the extra time to invest in all this? And, why is it so hard to find rebate information?

Rebates are an important part of any energy efficiency upgrade/retrofit or new construction project – after all they can win you the job. If manufacturers had accurate rebate information right on their website, it would make searching for rebates a much faster – and easier – process. All the information you need in one place.

Encentivizer Widget Mockup

We feel your pain and know exactly what you’re going through. That’s why we created the Encentivizer Widget. It allows anyone with a website to add a widget that shows accurate, real-time energy efficiency rebate intelligence by product line or category and by utility. So, it’s perfect for product manufacturers that invest in getting fixtures listed on DesignLights Consortium QPL – this enhances the investment and increases ROI. If you’re an agent, distributor, or contractor and would like to be able to access this data for the fixtures you’re using, you can add it to your website or suggest the manufacturers that you work with to get this on their site! Have someone in mind right now? Let us know.

Looking for more information on the Widget? Look no further.

Even if you do not have a website, Encentivizer has a solution for everyone! Visit our product page to learn more about how Encentivizer will help you.

Do you know about HVAC and VFD incentives and what they mean for you?

Upgrading an HVAC system can be a costly project, and even adding VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) is not a small investment. This is where utility incentives can come into play. Rebates for HVAC equipment and VFDs improve the ROI on projects by allowing you to achieve higher energy savings with more efficient equipment.

Utilities incentivize HVAC upgrades based on higher efficiency equipment that is typically measured by SEER and EER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and Energy Efficiency Ratio). Every utility varies – the higher the efficiency number the more efficient the equipment is and the utilities have varying standards on what the SEER or EER needs to be to qualify for rebates. Utilities pay incentives based on tons, BTUs or energy savings.

Utilities incentivize VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives) as an add-on piece of equipment that makes motors more efficient. Instead of upgrading your current HVAC system you can add-on a VFD to increase efficiency and collect an incentive if the utility in the area has a rebate for it. VFD rebates are largely calculated on the horsepower of the motor.

HVAC/VFD and LED lighting rebates are different. Lighting has the most rebate programs followed by HVAC and then VFDs.  The key differentiator between LED lighting fixtures and HVAC/VFDs is that HVAC/VFDs require information about the pre-existing equipment or condition far less often than LEDs which reduces the complexity of getting this incentive. In short, HVAC/VFD rebates are easier to apply for than LED lights.

So, how can you find these incentives for HVAC and VFDs?

Of course, you can call the utility, but if you’re project scope changes or you have multiple projects (or a multi-site project), that can turn into a bit of a nightmare. A faster and more agile path would be to use the Encentivizer Platform. Encentivizer has 14 defined categories for tracking HVAC incentives and the rebate varies based on that category. VFDs have 26 types of motors in fans, pumps and compressors in 4 application areas (HVAC, agriculture, industrial, recreation) – this info is all in one place…Encentivizer.

Utilities vary widely on their categorization of the HVAC and VFDs. Encentivizer normalizes all the variations the utilities use to categorize HVAC and VFDs and incentives for them.

If you’re a current Encentivizer customer, you can expect to see both HVAC and VFD data sets released in Fall 2017. The HVAC/VFD data set will become available through Encentivzer  tools: XL, the mobile app, Portfolio Awareness, Product Awareness and the new widget.

If you are interested in being a beta-testing partner, please reach out to us.

by Mike Cham, CTO

The Energy Efficiency Financing Valley of Death

Think about what happens when you go to buy a car. To help close the sale the car dealership automatically includes several different creative financing options – leasing, low interest loans, longer payment periods, etc. You naturally consider all these options as you make your buying decision.  We have reached a point where we expect the dealership to be knowledgeable about these options and help us apply for the best choice once we make a decision. Unfortunately, the energy efficiency sales industry is so fragmented that there is no common market model – like the car dealership industry – to systematically present financing options right when the customer is trying to make a purchasing decision.

In May, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2017 ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) Energy Efficiency Finance Forum in Chicago. This event has been around for more than a decade and no matter how many new ideas around financing energy efficiency projects are discussed and innovated, there never seems to be significant traction in how to create a scalable solution. Multiple studies continue to show approximately 40% of commercial projects do not move forward because of lack of funding.

Customer acquisition valley of death
Image Credit: Joe Indvik, Rock Creek Consulting. ACEEE Finance Forum Presentation

One session I attended really drove this point home when they highlighted the fact that there is a “wealth” of supply (i.e. Capital) and a huge demand ($340 Billion estimated need over the next ten years) …so why isn’t the law of economics working??? The conclusion they reached was that we have a “customer acquisition valley of death” – (credit to Joe Indvik of Rock Creek Consulting for presenting the concept). In plain English, the point being made was that are lots of ways for customers to learn about financing options (i.e. Discovery Phase) and once a financing proposal is presented, the likelihood of moving forward goes up (i.e. Execution Phase). But, what is missing is a scalable way for customers to actually understand their financing options when they are making a purchasing decision (i.e. Connection Phase).

Other sessions continued to build on this question with one solution that may hold the answer – utility rebate programs. Utility rebate programs have built trade ally networks that train local and regional energy efficiency companies to present rebate options to customers as they are making their buying decision. Rebates are a form of financing (everyone wants free money…right?) so why not also offer financing for the remainder of the project cost at the same time? Encentiv Energy is currently working on a pilot with a utility and a 3rd party financing company to offer multiple financing options through the utility’s trade allies. Early indicators show that customers are responding favorably to this simplified and scalable model. We will keep you posted… If you’re interested contact us to learn more.

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by Steve Moritz, President & CEO

Saving Schools Incentive Dollars Doesn’t Take a Summer Break

Following the ritual of spring graduations, school districts and universities across the country find themselves scrambling against the clock to complete summer construction projects.  Summer is the ideal time for these facilities to upgrade energy efficient measures like lighting, HVAC, and begin new construction work while faculty, student, and staff are on break.  School budgets have been approved and now it’s a race to complete project work before everyone returns.  If planning is done in advance, schools can leverage electric utility incentives and will have completed pre-approval application processes before work begins.

However, if you find yourself having overlooked the utility incentive opportunities pick up the phone and contact your local utility representative immediately, because it may not be too late.  Many times, utility companies find themselves looking for eligible energy efficiency projects within the Government, Institutional, and not-for-profit sectors (GIN).  You may be able to work with your local utility program administrator (even if you missed a pre-approval timeline) to leverage incentive dollars that your school qualifies for.  Don’t allow yourself to be diverted that the incentive program participation is too much work or a distraction from focusing on a project’s completion demands because the advantages of participating are meaningful –

(1) Incentive dollars can be sizable and help drive down a projects ROI

(2) The construction team will look like hero’s by leveraging these FREE incentive dollars back to the institution

(3) Every utility meter customer is funding these incentive programs, so if you don’t retrieve and participate in the program when opportunity presents itself, then your neighboring institution will

If you are a contractor or GIN and unfamiliar with the electric utility incentive programs, find the complexity of program changes and applications daunting, or need resource support to participate in these programs then contact Encentiv Energy today.  You can also visit www.Awareness.Encentivizer.com to learn more about incentive programs throughout North America.  We have helped thousands of customers leverage available incentive dollars seamlessly.

Contact Us Today

by Lee Levitt, Chief Revenue Officer

AESP’s National Conference 2017 – Destination Innovation

Spending Valentine’s Day away from home on business – in a destination city like Orlando, at Universal Studios theme park no less – is one of those times when we all need to have that very understanding loved-one and family back home. But we can all give a thanks to AESP for having our backs by providing this great infographic as some level of proof of how hard we all worked that week at the AESP National Conference.

The truth is….these statistics don’t tell half the story.  The Encentiv Energy team is new to the AESP membership, having joined in 2016, and this was our first AESP National Conference, both as exhibitors and attendees.  It would be hard to imagine a more important and better opportunity for us to participate in an event that will prove to be more meaningful for the continued growth and success of our company.

It felt like all 780+ attendees stopped to see us in Booth 804, and everyone was very engaging and genuinely interested to hear our story:

  • who is Encentiv Energy
  • what is our Encentivizer SaaS platform of EE awareness, estimate and submit tools (learn more here)
  • how we harness the power of information to provide a better way for the industry to manage the utility incentive process (see how)

Not only did we enjoy meeting and talking with everyone – after all, growing your business in a cost-effective manner is why we all invest the time and dollars in attending conferences like this – but we made the effort to get involved. All three of us – our CEO, CTO and VP of Utility Programs – joined different Topic Committees.  What a great opportunity to further network, to contribute to the AESP organization, and to hear first-hand about the latest developments and best practices of our peers – the many experts in this exciting and ever-changing industry.

So again, thank you to everyone that helped make our first AESP National Conference a great experience, by making the effort as well – the AESP Staff, Board Members, Sponsors, Exhibitors and attendees.  And congratulations to the AESP Energy Award Winners.  The conference theme of Destination Innovation called our name, and we’re glad we made the tough trip to Orlando in February – and glad we remembered to send flowers and candy to those at home!

See you next year in New Orleans!

by Steve Shearson, Vice President of Utility Programs

Encentivizer XL™ Gets Major Updates

Powerful New Features Support XL Users

Pittsburgh, PA, February 7, 2017– Encentiv Energy today announced major updates to its Encentivizer XL tool with exciting new features. Encentivizer XL now features more powerful rebate estimate intelligence with the addition of lumens and efficacy. An increasing number of utility programs are starting to require lumens in order to calculate an incentive and/or requiring projects to comply with minimum lighting levels. Encentivizer XL becomes an even more powerful tool with these new additions and allows users to comply with all program changes right at their fingertips. These features will more accurately determine the rebate amount. The updates are being rolled out to current users and new users will have this functionality out-of-the-box.

“We are seeing more utilities moving in the direction of using lumens and efficacy as rebate estimators. Without Encentivizer XL users must spend a lot of time doing individual program research to calculate incentives in this manner.” said Mike Cham, CTO.

Encentiv Energy is a proven leader in driving new technology solutions to the market and is changing the landscape of how utility programs, end user customers, trade allies, vendors, and manufacturers participate in rebate, incentive, and financing programs to maximize revenue, increase sales, and improve outreach participation. They consistently identify programs to connect available dollars to our customers’ new construction and renovation/retrofit projects.

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Ashley Garia at 412-723-1508 or email at agaria@encentivenergy.com.

THE END-OF-YEAR UTILITY REBATE PROGRAM TSUNAMI

In January 2017 our system recorded over 450 program changes that include new rebate amounts, new submission guidelines and new product qualification standards.  For example, several programs are changing how they treat linear replacement lamps with more and more of them either not rebating them or are rebating by UL Type (i.e. UL Types – A, A/B, B, C).  One utility in Colorado removed them from their prescriptive incentives and a major utility program in the midwest now has different incentives depending on the UL Type.

The question we get most often is “how does Encentiv keep the program data current?” The answer is that we have built multiple automated tools with sophisticated analytics to monitor and report on any program changes. One of the most valuable features of the Encentivizer™ Platform is the up-to-date utility rebate program data – accessible in real-time for our subscribers. Supporting these tools is a team of analysts who understand the complexities of rebate programs and how they operate. Everything runs pretty smoothly throughout the year until December and January, when hundreds of programs begin the transition to new rules, new rebates and fresh dollars.

Another very interesting trend is measuring rebate amounts based on the lighting efficacy – the efficiency of the lumen output compared to the wattage of the fixture. To calculate these rebate amounts the customer (or their contractor) will need to provide more data about the operating environment, hours of operation as well as more details on the new fixtures.  Encentiv has already modified the Encentivizer calculations to account for these inputs in the programs that are using this approach.

Encentiv is also seeing many programs start to differentiate between the DLC (Design Lights Consortium) Standard criteria versus the DLC Premium. In some programs, DLC Premium lighting products qualify for higher rebates than DLC Standard products, or ONLY DLC Standard OR DLC Premium will qualify for rebates.  See the DLC website for more information regarding the requirements for products to qualify for DLC Premium.

Other changes we are tracking include the shift towards putting more and more products on mid-stream programs (getting the rebate directly from a local distributor) and push for trade allies to use online applications versus editable PDF forms.  Look for more details on these trends in future newsletters.

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by Steve Moritz, President & CEO