Lighting Rebates: The Past 10 Years And What’s Next

Lighting rebates are a way for utilities to reduce electric demand and increase energy efficiency across North America. More generally known as demand side management programs, they have been around for the past 40 years but have really gained more traction over the past 10 - 15 years. These rebates represent a huge opportunity for commercial lighting; according to the CEE, US Energy Efficiency Programs spent over $73 million dollars on commercial prescriptive lighting rebates in 2016.

We've been monitoring commercial lighting rebates since we started 10 years ago in terms of coverage and incentive amounts. In 2008, only around 45% of the country offered rebates for commercial lighting. At the time, the rebates were mostly for CFLs, T8s and pulse start metal halide. Today, over 75% of the country is covered by rebate programs which are primarily focused on LED solutions. The map below shows how the rebate coverage has changed over the years.

As you can see, the lighting rebate landscape has been constantly changing. It’s hard to spot a clear trend across the country; while some programs have discontinued, others have increased. For example, Pacific Power, which operates utilities in 6 states, discontinued most lighting rebates in 2 states but then they increased them in the other 4. It all depends on the local market and their policy goals in terms of job creation, investment, and environmental impact. Each program also gets to decide which specific types of products it wants to incentivize and how much of a rebate to offer.

With LED adoption continuing to rise and energy codes becoming increasingly strict, people often wonder if lighting rebates will continue. While no one has a crystal ball, our opinion is that rebates will still be offered in the future. Energy efficiency programs have been around since the 70's and, according to the CEE, Demand Side Management Program Budgets were at a 10 year high in 2017 with over $9.9 billion allocated to these programs.


In addition, there's still a huge amount of inefficient lighting in the marketplace. While to those in the industry, it seems like LEDs are everywhere, look around the next time you’re at the doctor's office, the corner drug store, or your kids' school; incandescent, traditional T8s, and even T12s are still all over the country. Many utilities still need to curtail electric usage in order to meet the demand and helping customers replace these types of lighting is still the most inexpensive way for them to do it.

LEDs continue to get more efficient, new networked lighting controls are being introduced, and new technologies are always on the horizon. As they have in the past, lighting rebate programs will likely continue to evolve and adapt to new technologies and the changing market. These programs should continue to spur businesses across the country to upgrade their lighting in the years to come.

How can you take advantage of these rebates? Over the past 10 years, we've helped customers capture over $16.5 million in rebates and incentives. If you'd like to see what kind of money might be available for your project, just give us a call at 609-945-5349 or contact us via e-mail.