By Michael Nark, President & CEO
May 4th, 2014

It seems that all over the US these days, electric utilities are offering their commercial accounts more and more incentives to help lower energy consumption. Not every utility has a program like this, but no one type of electric utility is spared from the movement. Anything from a small municipal utility to a publicly traded utility, with millions of commercial customers, can have any number of incentive programs to offer. It appears to be a win-win for everyone from programs solely directed toward saving money.

These programs vary, from incentives to demand response programs, and are designed to save the commercial customer money, as well as curtail demand on the electric grid. They come in the form of rebates for using energy efficiency solutions, such as software and services, to installing energy efficient equipment to tax credits and deductions. Commercial customers are becoming increasingly engaged in their energy usage through Smart Grid Programs and are even being offered options for energy sources, and types of electricity providers. It is set to define this millennium and will be certain to pave the way for the future electric grid.

It seems all too easy: commercial customers utilize efficiency measures (software, services, etc.), reducing their monthly energy bill and decreasing their individual demand on the electric grid; they can install solar panels on their office building, offsetting their need for power from the grid significantly, and at the same time redirecting energy they do not use back into the grid. Utilities have realized that the way to push their customers toward these types of energy-saving mechanisms is to put a tangible dollar value on the idea. The incentives can be as small as offering a rebate for using a software application to control your heating and cooling in buildings to state tax credits for installing solar panels. Either way, commercial customers seem to latch on to the idea of saving money and energy, and will do what they can to achieve both.

By placing more control in the hands of the commercial customer, utilities have acknowledged that end-users are the ones with both the literal and figurative power in this situation. We have come to the agreement that both customers and utilities want to save money; so changing the demands of the consumer is exactly the route we should take to make it happen.

Each utility offers a myriad of opportunities throughout their commercial customer base. Targeting all commercial customer classes, those utilities that offer these incentives have put the right foot forward in curbing demand and realizing the renewable targets in all of its operating states. More utilities should put themselves out there, making it seem very simple to be a part of a greater agenda and (here is where they get you) to save money!

Giving up the reigns and permitting the actual consumers of the electricity to reduce their monthly energy bills through incentives is certainly the most obvious and easy route towards reaching those targets for energy efficiency and renewable integration that we may have once thought to be impossible. Successful programs shed light on the almost too-obvious notion that commercial customers will do nearly anything to save a dollar, and we can take advantage of this to deploy incentive-backed legislation nation-wide that will bring our energy consumption back on track.