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Where are the Best Areas for Lighting Rebates?

While there’s no clear-cut answer, some trends provide guidance.

According to BriteSwitch, a firm specializing in finding and capturing local, utility, state, and federal rebates and incentives for commercial buildings, the number one question end-users ask is, “Where are the best lighting rebates in the country?” While it’s not an easy question to answer, BriteSwitch is sharing its knowledge on the best areas for lighting rebates.

Trend #1: The three states with the highest populations have the worst rebates.

When people think of green initiatives, California usually comes to mind first. Over the past few years, its commercial lighting programs have dwindled, as the state has shifted its focus toward energy efficiency legislation rather than providing incentives. Texas’ utility rebate programs are traditionally geared toward large projects and require several extra steps that add complexity for both the customer and the contractor. Florida’s utilities offer meager rebate opportunities; only a few rebate programs are available, and its incentive levels are typically low. For instance, one of its incentives comes out to only $0.05 per 4-ft LED tube.

Trend #2: Northeastern rebates are generous but come with a catch.

Traditionally, northeastern utility providers have offered lucrative rebates, but the process is difficult. Rebate applications in this area are typically outsourced to third-party organizations, questions are forwarded to call centers, and the paperwork is redirected countless times before it’s reviewed. This can make it difficult to follow up on a project and to find out when materials can be purchased or even for which incentive you will be eligible. All these steps also lead to a lengthy pre-approval period, sometimes taking as long as six to eight weeks. Some utilities have also started midstream rebates where the rebate is taken directly off the invoice. These types of programs can be problematic if businesses want to use a specific distributor or contractor that is not in the program.

Trend #3: Midwest and Northwest regions offer strong incentives but have many variations.

Some of the highest rebates can be found in the Midwest and Northwest regions. The challenge is to navigate the many different available rebate programs. For instance, Washington alone has 31 separate rebate programs, similar to Colorado and Minnesota. Each of the utilities’ programs has its own incentive levels and product requirements, so what worked for one location may not be available just one town over.

Trend #4: Funding goes quicker than anticipated in some areas.

Rebate programs typically have set budgets, meaning that program funding can run out for a few months, a year, or indefinitely. Typically, between 10% to 20% of the rebate programs nationwide run out of funding at some point. While a few programs are currently out of funding, this year several rather large utilities are struggling to meet their program goals.

Trend #5: The type of product makes a big difference.

The product being used will also influence where the best rebate areas are. For example, Avista Power in Idaho offers a $610 rebate for a LED pole-mounted fixture replacing 1,000W HID, one of the best in the country. On the other hand, its $6.50 4-ft tube rebate is close to the national average. In addition, some areas don't allow exterior lighting or Type B/Direct Wire retrofits.


Randy Young is the Operations Manager at BriteSwitch, a company that specializes in finding and capturing rebates for businesses. He can be reached at [email protected].

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