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Energy Incentives are a No-Brainer

You are likely already paying for them, and you have been doing so for years.

Do I have your attention yet?  Take a look at your monthly utility bill and you will likely find something called a Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) or Public Benefit Charge (PBC).

Most states have some form of a public benefit fund (PBF) or system benefit fund (SBF). Many state lawmakers began to adopt PBF policies in the late 1990s following the restructuring of the electrical industry. Policymakers see PBFs as a useful funding mechanism for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income assistance programs and projects. PBFs are typically funded through a charge on customers’ utility bills based on their energy usage, or through a flat fee.

PBFs are most often state-level policies, although some local municipalities have implemented their own PBFs. PBFs are usually created through state statutes or state agency orders, such as regulations from a state public utilities commission. Structuring PBFs to achieve maximum effectiveness can be a challenge. Administration, funding, fee assessment, and fund allocation are all critical components of a PBF.

Utilities, local governments, and state agencies offer energy incentive programs that help make energy efficiency a more affordable option for commercial buildings. Depending on your state or municipality, programs can take the form of rebates, tax incentives, or loans for qualified purchases. While specifics vary from program to program, savings categories frequently include financial incentives for HVAC systems, water heaters, building insulation, appliances, weatherization, lighting, and other energy

Utility incentive programs are shifting to recognize emerging technologies, often working with their customers and vendors on projects to save energy. At one time, the incentive programs launched by utility companies often centered around rebates for purchases of energy-saving equipment. While these programs are still around, many utilities are shifting course. Now, the trend is to offer a financial incentive per unit of energy saved.  It’s ‘pay for performance’ versus paying for hardware. Now, some pay-for-performance programs require minimum energy savings targets and some evidence the facility has met them. Another driver behind the changing incentive programs is the fact that many of the easy wins (e.g., installing LED lightbulbs) have already occurred.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), sponsored by the Department of Energy (DoE), provides detailed information on state incentives and policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. With DSIRE, you can further narrow your search with an extensive list of filters that allow you to differentiate between various renewable and energy-efficiency technologies. Other useful filters that are not available on the DOE database include dates, categories, program type, and coverage area.

Building Assure has designed and developed my Building Alerts with the small building owner in mind. Our low-cost solution provides all the necessary data to monitor energy consumption and waste, air quality, thermal comfort (temperature and humidity), water leak detection, equipment maintenance, service quality check (was the service conducted, and did it achieve the desired results), and much more. All while providing full transparency to your tenants and service contractors.

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