Finding Rebates and Incentives for Lighting Upgrades

State and Local

If federal options continue to be limited, you can look toward state and local governments for incentives and rebates. While you are more at the mercy of your state legislature or city council, some boast an impressive number of options to make your lighting upgrade viable.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 32 states have implemented rebate, loan or tax incentive programs for energy-efficient lighting upgrades and use in commercial or institutional facilities. For most of these programs, the incentives cover lighting as one category out of many in making buildings more energy-efficient and are broader in scope.

For example, at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), a Department of Energy lab located near Chicago, five buildings needed lighting upgrades, and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity provided incentives covering nearly 30% of the project, which added up to just under $50,000. The project saves ANL $39,000 in energy usage each year, and the incentives reduced the payback period from 4.4 years to 3 years.

However, not every state has incentive programs like that, so you are often at the mercy of what your local or state government has passed. Even if there aren’t robust incentive programs, your state might provide loans for lighting improvements.

One common method that state legislatures have pushed around the country are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. These programs help property owners pay for upgrades to clean and efficient technologies through property tax assessments that local governments can finance. According to PACENation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for PACE financing, 32 states and the District of Columbia have PACE-enabling legislation. To learn more about PACE programs, visit www.energy.gov/eere/slsc/property-assessed-clean-energy-programs.

The process of finding incentive programs for your lighting upgrade project can be frustrating because of the ever-changing nature of financial programs and their inconsistency based on location. However, detailed project planning and a diligent overview of appropriate agencies, departments and databases are the most effective actions you can take.

Justin Feit justin.feit@buildings.com is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

One of the most robust sources of incentives and rebates is DSIRE. Operated by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE hosts information on incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in the U.S. The database includes programs and initiatives specifically for lighting upgrades, while also presenting information on all other types of incentives for sustainable energy practices.

The database allows you to search for programs based on location by simply providing your zip code. Then you are able to narrow your search to accommodate lighting upgrades for the appropriate building type.

Furthermore, you can sort through policy and incentive types, allowing the prioritization of certain programs that fit best with your goals. Whether you are looking for a grant, loan, tax credit or exemption, rebate or any other particular kind of incentive, DSIRE provides filters to streamline the search process.

In addition to compiling government-funded incentives, DSIRE includes relevant programs for investor-owned utilities. However, this only applies to larger utilities companies. “Because there are thousands of electric cooperatives and municipal utilities in the U.S., DSIRE’s scope is generally limited to those with more than 30,000 customers,” according to its website. If your utility is small and is not under the purview of DSIRE, contact it directly to learn about any possible incentives.


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