During the Business Lighting mid-year webinar on August 17, 2021, we received questions via the chat function which we promised to compile and share with attendees. The responses provide helpful information about the roll-out of 2021 Business Lighting program offerings and 2022 planning. We encourage all Business Lighting trade allies to review them, regardless of whether you were able to attend the webinar.
What has the Business Lighting program done to address processing approval timelines?
As we shared during the webinar, we started the year with a historically high volume of projects from the 2020 bonus, and we did not have the resources to process all of these projects in our typical turnaround times. To address this, we:
- Added more staff to the processing team.
- Lifted some low-risk review requirements to speed up payments.
As of today, we have completed processing the majority of the 2020 bonus projects (see page two of this report for more information). We are keeping these changes in place to process new, incoming projects.
The best way to receive a prompt incentive payment is to submit a complete application. Here are project submission tips that will encourage faster processing times:
- Include cut sheets of the installed products with the final paperwork.
- Confirm the site address is complete and correct. For instance, sometimes we receive projects with a city listed or with an incomplete address number.
- Fill in the Estimated Completion Date on the 100L of the lighting tool so we can get you your customer’s offer.
- Send all documents for projects to the correct email address at firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com.
If you have questions about specific projects in the processing pipeline, please reach out to Dave Backen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the pre- and post-installation verification process and when does Energy Trust perform these verifications?
When the program reviews the initial Lighting Tool submitted by the trade ally, the Forms 100L and 103L are checked to ensure the customer is eligible to receive incentives. In 2021, a pre-installation verification is required when the incentive level is above $3,000 or estimated kWh savings exceed 100,000.
All Controlled Environment Agriculture projects receive a pre-installation verification. In the pre-installation verification all data points (physical address, operating hours, equipment types, etc.) are verified. During this COVID-19 period, we are also asking for “pre” photos of existing equipment as we are only doing on-site verifications in certain circumstances.
Energy Trust performs post-installation verifications on projects that receive over $4,000 in incentives to ensure projects meet all standards for energy efficiency. The processing team checks the Lighting Tool for any changes from the originally submitted Tool. Post-installation verifications also include:
- Review of final invoices submitted.
- Checking to see if installed equipment matches the listed proposed product.
- Confirming controls quantities and number of fixtures controlled.
- Ensuring all data points from pre-installation verification remain consistent.
- Reviewing photographs submitted by the trade ally.
- In lieu of on-site verifications, we are asking for photographs of installed equipment and name plates of each type of equipment installed.
I am concerned that the Small Business Direct Install offering will cut into my business. What is Energy Trust doing to ensure this doesn’t happen?
Energy Trust developed a focused Direct Install lighting offer to help small businesses that have not been able to take advantage of energy efficiency incentives. This offer is part of Energy Trust’s focus to do more to reach customers who have not been able to access our programs, and also to support more minority, women, service-disabled veteran and emerging small business contractors.
We do not want to create any confusion with customers or allies or create a conflict between the direct install offer and the downstream program. To address this, the direct install outreach team asks each customer if they are already working with an Energy Trust trade ally or another contractor to upgrade their lighting prior to engaging with a customer. If the customer says yes, then they will thank them for their time and leave without mentioning the direct install offer or saying anything about free lighting upgrades. If the customer says no, then the outreach team can perform a lighting walkthrough survey of the customer’s business and set up the no-cost installation.
If you would like to learn more about this offering, please read this Q&A article featured on Insider. You can also reach out to our Direct Install Program Manager, Aaron Leatherwood, at email@example.com.
For the Small Business Direct Install offering, what products do you suggest to customers and based on what criteria?
You can find a complete list of energy-efficient lighting solutions we may provide through the Direct Install Small Business offering here. We recommend these efficient lighting products based on a customer’s space, existing lighting and business type. In this simple program offering, cost-effective retrofit or replacement solutions are determined by the lighting tool based on the existing equipment type and lumen output.
Will horticultural lighting be included in the midstream offering?
Horticultural lighting will not be included in the midstream offering until further notice. The midstream measure mix is still being reviewed, but you can expect it to include general service replacement lamps, such as A, PAR, MR, and decorative lamps, TLEDs, and some fixtures. Additional updates and details on product offerings will be communicated via Insider as they become available.
When will you announce the new 2022 incentive caps and program requirements?
You can expect an email from us and an Insider post communicating the program updates in late December after our annual budget is approved by the Energy Trust Board.
Can you tell us more about how House Bill 3141 will affect Energy Trust funding?
Annual funding levels are not expected to significantly change due to this bill. Our annual budgets will continue to be determined based on a set percentage for renewable energy and a fluctuating percentage for energy efficiency.
- Renewable energy funding is a percentage of the public purpose charge.
- Energy efficiency funding is based on the cost-effective energy efficiency potential in a given year.
While the public purpose charge will be reduced from 3% to 1.5%, funding for energy efficiency still occurs and through the standard OPUC ratemaking process. This process is similar to how Energy Trust budgets are currently set for energy efficiency funding outside the public purpose charge.
Does House Bill 3141 change Energy Trust support for energy efficiency?
Not really. While the public purpose charge no longer includes energy efficiency, all funding necessary to plan for and pursue cost-effective energy efficiency will be determined through standard OPUC ratemaking processes. These processes are similar to how Energy Trust currently budgets for energy efficiency funding outside the public purpose charge.
The 2022 budget for energy efficiency will continue to be set in coordination with each utility and tied to their long-term energy resource planning (integrated resource plans). As has been the practice since 2009, annual budget levels fluctuate based on the energy efficiency potential in the market while balancing for rate impacts.
All energy efficiency funding Energy Trust receives and invests will be held to new equity metrics that the OPUC will develop by the end of 2022.