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Mon Valley business owners learn about rebate program

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Chris Buckley | The Valley Independent
Andrew Stroh discusses FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania Utilities’ Energy Efficiency Incentive Program during a Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting Tuesday in the Anthony M. Lombardi Conference Center in Carroll Township.

At the beginning of his presentation during a Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting Tuesday, Andrew Stroh asked how many business owners in attendance were familiar with the state's energy efficiency rebate program.

Stroh, project manager for FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania Utilities' Energy Efficiency Incentive Program, explained how phase II of the program provides a whole new opportunity for businesses and residents to be paid back for making energy efficient decisions.

Stroh is employed by CLEAResult, a subcontractor of First Energy. He handles the nonresidential phase of the program. But rebates are available for residents who upgrade their homes also to make them more energy efficient.

In 2008, then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law Act 129, which requires all electric distribution companies with at least 100,000 customers to develop and file energy efficiency and conservation plans.

The incentives or rebates are a customer-funded program, Stroh said. Nearly all electricity users have a line item on their bill that funds this program.

Stroh spoke of the program's advantages for noncommercial property owners.

Incentives are available for businesses that improve building design, lighting retrofit, lighting controls, replace HVAC or chiller systems and controls, refrigeration, kitchen, industrial process improvements.

Phase I ran from 2009 through May 31, 2013. Phase II of the program began last June.

Some changes to the program have been implemented in phase II. Projects must have been completed within 180 days of the submission of an application for a rebate. In phase I, some projects dating back to 2009 were approved for rebates as late as last year.

Utilities must achieve at least 25 percent of their kilowatt savings target in each year of phase II.

Getting pre-approved for a project will insure that the funds for the rebate are set aside for its completion.

Stroh encouraged businesses to visit the website energysavePA-business.com for more information and to help in the application process. The site has a calculator that calculates the rebate.

Rebates are available for two types of projects – retrofits, improvements to existing equipment; and new construction.

The most popular type of project is lighting, which pays a rebate of 5 cents per kilowatt hour saved. Retrofitting exit signs to LED lights can earn a rebate of $15 per sign, and lighting controls – such as the ones that turn lights on and off when someone enters a room – earn a $435 rebate per control.

LED signs above businesses can earn a rebate of $2 per linear foot.

Street lights and traffic signals are only eligible if the community owns them.

Commercial refrigeration and HVAC unit improvements are also among the projects eligible for rebates, Stroh said.

Stroh said construction should be completed within 90 days of the pre-approval. Final project review is usually completed within a week of the final submission for the rebate and the incentive payment made within 30 to 60 days.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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