A majority of North America is covered by a commercial lighting rebate program, but have you ever wondered where the most interest is? Our RebatePro and RebateDirect tools are used on a variety of manufacturer and distributor websites to help customers find and estimate rebates. Using anonymized data from the thousands of requests we processed in the last year, we can see that the top 5 states where customers were looking for rebates were CA, PA, TX, NY and IL.
California is the most searched for state based on all the requests that we process. This position makes sense because it is seen as a “green” state and most people assume it offers the best rebates. In reality, the rebate opportunity is not great here. While years ago the major utilities in this state used to have solid rebate programs, the dollar amounts have decreased substantially. In more recent years, California has preferred to encourage energy efficiency through legislation (such as Title 24) rather than rebates. The programs have also gotten more complicated. The large utilities mostly offer lighting rebates through midstream programs which means a lot of contractors, distributors and customers can’t take advantage of them. Furthermore, the products that qualify are limited; some of these offerings require DLC premium listing to qualify. California also has the only programs that calculate some rebates based on kilolumen which can be confusing to those who aren’t familiar with the measurement.
The second most searched for state, Pennsylvania, has a much better rebate opportunity than California. Every major utility in Pennsylvania offers a rebate program because of PA Act 129 of 2008. While they may all have rebate programs, the structure differs between the programs which creates some confusion for customers, contractors and distributors who service multiple areas. Some programs offer set dollar amounts per fixture or lamp, but others offer an incentive per kWh saved. Further complicating matters, some programs use standardized hours of operation while others allow you to use the actual hours of the facility. These different approaches make estimating the rebate amount trickier. Pennsylvania is also one of the few states that can benefit from capacity incentives on top of the available utility rebates.
Texas, the third most searched for state, is another area where it’s confusing to figure out rebates. While most large utilities here have some type of program, they’re complex to understand. Most programs have different processes and dollar amounts depending on the business size. The programs are inconsistent on retrofit lamp rebates and for the most part prefer fixture replacements for rebates. Peak demand also plays a big factor, meaning outdoor projects are tougher to qualify. Several programs require customers to use a project sponsor which should be a participating contractor or distributor trained in the program. Lastly, Texas is the only state that has some programs that require a deposit upfront.
With 7 large utilities and over 50 municipalities, the programs in NY can differ from one town to the next. What makes it even more complex is that some utilities in this area have multiple programs. In some areas, there are direct install programs where contractors go door to door and solicit business to do upgrades at small facilities. The rebates they offer are different than the published prescriptive programs which can make it confusing to customers doing their own research. The NY programs provide relatively high incentive levels though, higher than the national average for most products, and have comprehensive programs that cover most lighting technologies.
The last state in the Top 5 is Illinois. Part of the reason that makes Illinois complicated in terms of rebates is that the largest utilities in the state have both midstream, prescriptive, custom and direct sale rebate programs. For a customer here, it can be hard to fully understand what the rebate options are. In addition, if a customer is doing a comprehensive lighting project, that may mean having to use 2 different rebate programs. For example, if a large office building is upgrading their lighting, they would have to use a participating distributor to get rebates for LED tubes. For downlights and troffers, they’d have to file prescriptive rebates. The main utilities in Illinois also require that if a project is not self-installed, they must use an use ICC certified contractor.
There's potential in almost all the states
While these 5 states were the most searched for states in the past year, there is a high amount of interest across the entire US. It shows that customers are still struggling to find where the rebates are and how to claim them. With 75% of the US currently covered by an active commercial lighting rebate program, the opportunity is out there. BriteSwitch can help you determine if there’s any rebate potential for your project and negotiate with the utility to see what kind of incentives may be available. Just contact us and we'll help you out.