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News Room: Boulder/ Denver Counties

EnergySmart commercial rebates tapped out

Tuesday, July 17, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Michael Davidson
BOULDER - Rebates from the EnergySmart program for commercial property owners to upgrade their lighting or HVAC systems are ending because the funds have run out, according to the program's administrators.

EnergySmart is an energy-efficiency program jointly run by Boulder County and the cities of Boulder and Longmont. It offers rebates and advisory services to commercial property owners, businesses and homeowners.

Through July 6, the program issued more than $1 million in rebates, according to data provided by EnergySmart. Nearly 500 businesses have received the rebates, which were issued for more than 700 projects.

The program allocated about $1.2 million for upgrading commercial properties. The funds came from the Boulder Climate Action Plan tax and a grant through the U.S. Department of Energy's BetterBuildings Program.

EnergySmart issued rebates on a first-come, first-served basis, and now the last dollar has been allocated, said Bill Hayes, the Boulder County employee who oversees the program.

The program proved more successful than its administrators had expected.

"We hoped to have money through the end of the year," Hayes said.

The funds were earmarked for upgrades to lighting systems or HVAC systems. Initially, most of the projects were for switching T12 fluorescent lights to T8 units, but over time more projects were for more expensive HVAC upgrades.

"That really gobbled up the remaining dollars," Hayes said.

The program also took off because more property owners with large portfolios decided to upgrade several buildings, he said.

After the program launched last year, getting people interested in rebates proved difficult, Hayes said.

"It was kind of surprising how hard of a sales job you sometimes have to do to give away money," Hayes said.

Administrators hope to revive the commercial program. One potential source of funds is from Boulder's Climate Action Plan tax, which could go on the ballot in November, Hayes said.

Meanwhile, EnergySmart will continue to offer access to energy advisers who can help business and property owners identify other rebates or incentives that are available. Services and rebates for homeowners also remain.

According to data from EnergySmart, the total cost of all the projects receiving EnergySmart rebates was $5.3 million. They saved more than 10.7 million kilowatt hours and reduced 8,600 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

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