04/2021 Webinar: Utility Incentives
Cultivators know securing utility incentives may be the difference between using state-of-the-art LED lighting or settling for legacy fixtures. But experienced cultivators also know managing the process of applying for incentives is time-consuming and tricky. Fluence recently held a webinar to help cultivators learn the ins and outs of procuring these important incentives.
Fluence’s utility rebate coordinator, Brady Nemeth, led the session, sharing wisdom gained from many years of working with energy-efficiency programs in North America. With Brady’s expertise leading the charge, Fluence has secured more than $14M in utility incentive cash for customers — all part of Fluence’s value-add service suite.
Brady explained while it might seem counterintuitive for utility companies to give you money to use less electricity, it actually makes sense, because it’s cheaper for them to save energy rather than to make new energy. Essentially, the utility company is paying customers to not use the energy they otherwise would by installing inefficient technology.
Brady cautioned against pitfalls that inexperienced incentive-hunters might come up against, such as jumping the gun on fixture purchases or tipping your hand to the utility company too early in the process.
The path to cash in pocket is not an easy one and is best navigated by a pro, according to Brady, who says it’s critical to understand:
Precise energy-savings calculations
The particulars of various utility companies
Incentives are calculated according to the energy savings you claim are above the baseline. For example, an applicant would show what an HPS fixture would use energy-wise, and then show what an LED would use. Carefully crafted messaging offers the best chance of securing incentives, which typically end up being 25 percent to 30 percent of the cost of the lighting, Brady revealed in the webinar.
Many other must-know tips were shared by this veteran of navigating utility incentives, and after the presentation, participants had more questions.
Here are a few:
Q: Does the size of your grow impact your ability to qualify for a utility rebate?
A: No, with the exception of some minimums. Because applying for incentives does go through a custom path, there’s a certain amount of resources that the utility has to spend, there may be some hesitation for an operation as small as 10 lights, but if you’re an actual commercial grow at any scale, it’s typically no problem.
Q: Are incentives available to home growers, too?
A: There are some residential programs, but they’re not nearly as common.
Q: Are we seeing mixtures of HVAC and LED incentives?
A: Different utilities, particularly the smarter ones, or ones that use a third party to run their program…some of them have a more sophisticated savings methodology and so they take into account things like HVAC savings and since it’s a custom project and they’re looking at everything, they’ll look at HVAC savings as well as savings from lighting. The lighting portion dwarfs everything else, but there is still other money on the table.
About the Author
Brady Nemeth is Fluence’s Utility Rebate Coordinator where he helps customers receive incentives from their local electrical utility, running a program that has helped secure over $14 million to date. Relatively new to the horticultural space, Brady’s background is primarily working on energy efficiency programs for lighting. Prior to his current role, he was a program manager on the DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC) Solid State Lighting (SSL) program where he managed the compliance programs and helped with the general development and maintenance of the program’s technical requirements. Brady holds a bachelor’s degree from NC State University in Raleigh, NC, and currently resides in Fluence’s hometown of Austin, Texas.