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Utility Rebates

Texas is unique in that it is the only state within the Contiguous United States that operates on its own power grid.  As Texas continues to grow, additional pressure is exerted on our state electric grid.  The State Legislature and Public Utility Commission have set efficiency goals for utilities to meet to help curb state electricity demand thereby eliminating costly infrastructure upgrades. To meet these goals, utilities have set up energy efficiency rebate programs that encourage businesses to reduce both electricity demand and consumption.   

All public utilities and most municipally owned utilities have energy efficiency rebate programs in place for both new construction and retrofits of existing commercial buildings.  Many utilities also have some form of rebate in place for on-site renewable energy generation. 

Most programs break down energy efficiency improvements into three categories with different associated incentive rates:

  • Heating, Ventilating  & Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Lighting
  • Other (broad category encompassing technologies that do not reduce either HVAC or Lighting energy use)

Most programs also allow three different methodologies to quantify energy savings when applying for a rebate:

1. Deemed Savings: This approach allows the use of engineering calculations using typical equipment characteristics and operating schedules (often for a particular application) to calculate energy savings along with the associated rebate amount. Generally HVAC equipment and lighting replacements fall into this category.  Compliance may involve utilizing utility provided spreadsheets along with replacement equipment efficiencies. 

2. Simple Measurement & Verification (M&V): Similar to the Deemed Savings approach, this method allows the use of engineering calculations using typical equipment characteristics and operating schedules for a particular application to calculate energy savings along with the associated rebate amount.  However, this method also required the use of either short term testing or simple long term metering and is typically necessary for equipment replacements that are not “like for like”. 

3. Full Measurement & Verification (M&V): This method requires metering, billing analysis, or computer energy model along with an M&V plan developed in accordance with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) to determine and quantify energy savings.  This method is typically necessary for new construction projects or comprehensive retrofits that entail more than just equipment replacements. For example, changing a chilled water loop from constant flow to variable primary flow would likely require Full Measurement & Verification for rebate consideration. New construction will reference a code (or ASHRAE 90.1) defined baseline building to determine “energy savings” of the newly erected building (similar to the process required for EPAct 179d).

Many utility rebates, especially those for new construction, are left on the table every year by uninformed owners.  Often these projects would qualify for rebates without any design modifications.

Go to www.dsireusa.org for a list of local utility rebate programs.

Our team of licensed Professional Engineers can identify available rebates, work with the utility on your behalf, and create the necessary energy models and/or engineering reports required to certify your project.