Energy Incentive Programs for Businesses and Organizations in Illinois
When it comes to business or organizational energy needs, you can be facing some hefty investments. From setting up the infrastructure to dealing with the monthly utility bills, it can be financially difficult for businesses to be smart with their energy needs without going over budget. Thankfully, there are a large number of energy-related incentive programs available for businesses throughout the state of Illinois. Lower Electric partners with several retrofitting and energy efficiency companies to assist its clients with their efficiency needs.
What are energy incentives? How do they work?
Incentives provide access to reduced costs, reimbursements, or special funding that incentivizes businesses to adopt better energy use practices, including renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. These can come in the form of rebates, financial incentives, or tax deductions/credits for those who qualify.
Energy incentives require businesses and organization leaders to meet specific requirements or standards, and then apply to receive the incentive, rebate, or grant. Further, many of the utilities that offer programs and incentives also provide training and guidance to businesses on best practices and steps for moving toward smarter energy use.
What Illinois utility companies are offering
Due to changes in legislation, Illinois utility companies now handle the bulk of the state’s commercial and industrial incentive and energy efficiency programs. Energy.gov provides summaries of some of Illinois’ utility-run programs and incentives:
- Prescriptive incentives are available to business customers for efficient lighting, retro-commissioning, refrigeration, HVAC units, compressed air systems, data center equipment, lab equipment, food service equipment, transformers, battery chargers, and variable speed drives. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Custom incentives of up to $0.07/kWh of first-year savings are also available for improvements in system efficiency resulting in permanently reduced consumption. ComEd offers an Early Commitment option that pays $0.06/kWh of estimated first-year savings as soon as the application is approved (only available for projects estimated to save greater than 500,000 kWh). Because pre-approval is necessary to receive incentives, it is important to contact ComEd before beginning work.
- The New Construction program offers design assistance and incentives for new construction, additions, or major renovations to existing buildings. As part of this program, project designers can consult with energy-efficiency technical experts at no cost. These consultations will help identify efficiency improvements, available incentives, and opportunities to lower the building’s operational cost. Access to whole building energy modeling software is also included. Engaging with ComEd early in the design process is recommended; projects already in the construction phase are ineligible for this assistance.
- ComEd offers Building Retro-commissioning, which includes no-cost energy audits and the installation of electric and natural gas low-cost and no-cost efficiency measures. To qualify, facilities must have a peak demand greater than 500 kW. Building owners also must commit to spend a minimum of $15,000-$30,000 (depending on project size) on implementation of identified measures that have a simple payback of 18 months or less.
- ComEd also provides Data Center Efficiency Analysis, which assists customers in identifying energy-savings opportunities. Savings projects are incentivized at a rate of $0.05 to $0.07/kWh, for first-year savings, depending on the measures and timing of customer commitment. Incentives can cover up to 100% of the incremental cost and 50% of the total project cost.
- Standard incentives include prescriptive rebates for efficient lighting, HVAC, VFD, steam boilers, water heaters, steam traps, and refrigeration.
- Custom incentives are available at $0.06/kWh of first-year savings for lighting projects and $0.07/kWh for all other electric measures ($500,000 maximum). Gas efficiency projects are eligible for an incentive of $1.00/therm of first-year savings ($250,000 maximum). Incentives cannot be more than 50% of the incremental cost for any project and pre-approval is required.
- The Retro-Commissioning program provides an evaluation of opportunities for no- and low-cost efficiency measures by an Ameren-approved Retro Commissioning Service Provider (RSP).
- Incentives for compressed air system leak surveys and repairs are available; pre-approval is required for incentive requests over $10,000.
- Feasibility studies of efficiency projects are subsidized up to 50% (maximum $10,000 or 25% of the estimated savings). External contractors must be used to complete the study.
- The Commercial New Construction program offers free energy design assistance and a design team incentive between $1,000-$8,500, depending on the project intensity and program involvement. Construction incentives range from $0.05 to $0.14/kWh and $0.50 to $1.40/therm for first-year savings, increasing as energy savings percentage increases.
- The Commercial Energy Solutions program offers a comprehensive energy assessment with recommended projects for energy savings. Bonus incentives are available when multiple projects are completed and direct-install measures are available for small businesses. 50% of the cost of a building tune-up survey for small buildings or a retro-commissioning study for large buildings is covered through the program. Additional incentives are available based on savings from implemented projects and pay $0.05/kWh or $0.20/therm of first-year savings.
- The Industrial Partners program offers technical assistance that includes a no-cost facility energy assessment, implementation support, and no-cost system optimization studies in certain cases. Bonus incentives are available when multiple projects are completed.
Other utility-run programs include the IMEA Electric Efficiency Program and North Shore Gas Energy Efficiency program. DSIRE® has a searchable database of financial incentives tied to energy efficiency initiatives as well.
Researching incentive programs for your business doesn’t just have to be about saving yourself money, either. There are many programs available, even from the state itself, that reward organizations for giving their time to lower-income projects or retrofitting outdated and inefficient technology in favor of energy efficiency.
If you’re located in, or do business in Illinois, contact Lower Electric today for more information on renewable energy initiatives, or how to take advantage of local state incentives for your current building or construction project.