During the Business Lighting webinars on January 28 and 29, we received a number of questions via the chat function which we promised to compile and share with attendees. The responses provide helpful information about the 2021 Business Lighting program and we encourage all Business Lighting trade allies to review them, regardless of whether you were able to attend the webinars.
For projects started in 2020 that finish in 2021, do we need to submit the final details on the new Lighting Tool or the one we original applied with?
2020 projects should be completed on the 2020 Lighting Tool.
When can I get a look at the new Lighting Tool? Is it a big change from the past?
The 2021 Energy Trust Lighting Tool will look much the same as the previous version. It will be available on February 10. After the trade ally has confirmed their enrollment for 2021, Energy Trust will email a link to the 2021 Lighting Tool.
Provide more information on what’s considered a site and a participant for the incentive cap:
Project = 1 Lighting Tool.
Participant = a unique combination of a site address and a customer role (owner, tenant, property manager, and others).
If a participant has multiple locations under the same role, each unique address would be eligible for an incentive up to the $6,000 cap.
The cap doesn’t interact with meters—only site address and owner role.
As an example, consider PM, Inc., a property management firm. If they manage multiple properties, each with its own address, each of those properties would be eligible for an incentive up to the $6,000 cap. If PM, Inc., had one property with multiple buildings on a site, but the site address was the same for all of the buildings, it would be considered one participant and would be eligible for an incentive up to the $6,000 for the full property.
Will K-12 schools be subject to the incentive cap? How will it work?
Yes, K-12 schools who are working with a trade ally are subject to the same caps, and they would work the same way as the property management company example above. We know that there are K-12 schools who have facilities staff who complete self-install projects. Currently, Energy Trust is not providing incentives to any self-installed project; however, we’re currently working through some options that could provide incentives to K-12 schools and other public entities.
If there ends up being more budget at the end of the year, could larger projects that met the maximum $6,000 incentive limit get more incentives for being a completed project?
Projects are eligible for incentives that are available at the time the project is scoped, pre-authorized, completed and processed. Energy Trust does not provide incentives retroactively.
What’s the rationale behind the Active Projects cap? How will it work in practice?
Energy Trust introduced the Active Projects cap for the first time this year to help us manage the flow of projects through the program and have full visibility into the project pipeline from each trade ally. To ensure limited incentives are available to as many customers and trade allies as possible, we need to maintain the flow of projects through the program and not tie up reserved funds in projects that are less likely to move forward.
The Active Projects cap is 10 projects at any one time for projects with PGE customers and 5 projects at any one time for projects with Pacific Power customers. A project becomes active when Energy Trust signs and issues the 120L Pre-Authorization. It moves out of the Active Project queue when the final Lighting Tool and invoices are submitted. Once you submit the invoices for a project, you can then apply for another project.
The Active Project cap is separate from the annual incentive caps per trade ally, by utility. The Active Project cap is the total dollar amount of incentives, documented in the 120L applications, that a single trade ally company can submit, by utility.
If you have a specific case where the Active Project cap creates a challenge to delivering to your customer, please contact your Business Lighting Account Manager or the program at email@example.com.
Can you clarify the new shorter application and submission schedule? How would this work if I sell several projects to a single participant with multiple sites? Would I need to complete as many as 10 projects within 120 days?
All customers must sign and return the application by the submittal deadline listed, which is calculated as 30 days from the 120L Pre-Authorization Signature date from Energy Trust. The project must be installed, and all invoices and the final Lighting Tool must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before the incentive reservation expiration date which is calculated as 120 days from the 120L Pre-Authorization Signature date.
If you have a situation where a school district or a property manager starts several projects at the same time, please call your Account Manager as soon as these projects are submitted for pre-authorization. They can work with you on a schedule where there may be extenuating circumstances.
What about large projects? It seems like this program design will eliminate the opportunity to sell these bigger projects since the customer, or the trade ally, may decide not to deal with the extra paperwork for such a small incentive. Is Energy Trust focused on only serving smaller customers this year?
It’s important that Energy Trust make incentives available to businesses customers of all sizes. Energy Trust created this program design to ensure incentive funds are available to as many customers and trade allies as possible within a limited budget for 2021.
We put caps in place to ensure the budget is not exhausted early in the year with a few large projects submitted by a small number of allies. Historically the majority of lighting projects served by the lighting program fall below the $6,000 incentive cap threshold.
Why does Grow Lighting have a lower incentive and % cost cap than other Business Lighting?
Grow lighting incentives were reduced early in 2020 and this incentive level remains in place to help us manage our overall lighting budget.
How is Energy Trust going to verify more, smaller projects? What type of technology will be used and how long will this process take?
Energy Trust is accountable to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission and to ratepayers to ensure energy savings occurred at the level we expect. We do this by verifying and evaluating projects at any size.
For Business Lighting, any project receiving an incentive over $3,000 and $4,000 will be subject to a pre- and post-verification, respectively. We cannot verify every project of this size, but we will be verifying a random sampling of those project over the incentive thresholds and others at Energy Trust discretion. We are also adopting tools that will allow us to verify these projects remotely.
Virtual, remote verifications will be coordinated through our Account Manager team. We may ask for pictures of the facility or part numbers on the lighting equipment being installed. We may be introducing an online app that will allow us to call you or your customer on site and remotely view the facility through either the customer’s camera or the trade ally’s camera. We will be taking photos and verifying counts. In terms of timing, we will contact the trade ally within 5 days of the receipt of final invoices to schedule a post-verification; and we will be notify the trade ally within 5 days of the submission of the 120L to schedule the pre-verification. We will be sending out more information about virtual verifications to make it as easy as possible, including photo standards and examples and tips for a smooth process.
Who can answer my questions? I’ve also submitted final documents for 2020 bonus projects and haven’t received a confirmation? I want to be sure that these projects are moving forward to receiving the incentive.
The three Account Managers introduced at the webinar will support trade allies. The fastest way to get answers is to email email@example.com or call 1.800.326.2917. Our call center crew is well-equipped to answer most questions and since they have access to all the information, they can provide timely updates on projects.
CLEAResult is striving to respond to trade ally questions as quickly as possible. With a high volume of 2020 bonus projects received for processing in 2021, the response times are slower than normal. Energy Trust appreciates your patience.
What can you tell us about the new direct install (DI) program? How many allies will be selected to deliver it? Will it replace the current LED Buydown offering?
We are still deep in the design process for the DI offering. Our plan is to introduce this to the Trade Ally Network later in the spring. Much of the timing and the scale of the program will depend on the status of the budget for 2021 which will be clearer to us after all the 2020 bonus projects are submitted by February 28, 2021.
What can you tell us about the new midstream offering? Will it replace the LED Buydown offering available now? How much of CLEAResult’s goal do you expect to come through midstream?
We are also still deep in the design process for the midstream offering. Our plan is to introduce this to the Trade Ally Network this fall. As with DI, much of the timing and the scale of the program will depend on the status of the budget for 2021 which will be clearer to us after all the 2020 bonus projects are submitted by February 28, 2021.
Do these new limits apply to the New Buildings program?
No, the caps and program guidelines laid out in the webinar and the Program Guide are for the Business Lighting program only, which serves industrial customers, commercial customers in existing structures, and multifamily properties.
How are we going to learn of budget updates and also track our own company’s available funds?
Energy Trust is taking steps in enhance visibility into both our overall lighting budget and your individual company progress to caps, for incentives and Active Projects.
Before mid-year, we will be updating the Trade Ally Network on the status of our budget. If we must sunset certain incentives or pause specific offerings, you will be notified at least 30 days in advance. Depending on the available funds, this notice may include restrictions for submitting new projects as of the date of that notification.
CLEAResult is tracking on both the annual incentive caps for each trade ally company, by utility, and on the Active Projects caps. We are working on developing an online platform to allow trade allies to track their own projects. We will let you know as soon as we’re able to commit to a solid launch date.
Did Energy Trust’s lighting budget get cut dramatically for 2021? If so, why?
The total 2021 budget available for Business Lighting is similar to the total budget for 2020. Many lighting projects that received bonuses in 2020 are completing in early 2021 and drawing down our 2021 budget. Because of enthusiastic response to these 2020 bonuses, Energy Trust has a limited budget remaining for new lighting projects in 2021. To provide some context for this, in a typical year we enter a new year with a pipeline of committed projects of about 20%. In 2021, our pipeline is 67%. That leaves a significantly smaller budget available for new projects this year.
Could we see another program pause to the Business Lighting program before the end of the year?
We don’t know what 2021 will bring as the market and our programs continue to adapt to the pandemic. However, we are committed to providing as much transparency as possible into our available budget.
The incentive and active project caps are designed to give us more information about incentive reservations so that we can provide you with advance notice of any future incentive changes. Before mid-year, we will update the Trade Ally Network on the status of our budget. If we must sunset certain incentives or pause specific offerings, you will be notified at least 30 days in advance. Depending on the available funds, this notice may include restrictions for submitting new projects as of the date of that notification.
We are committing to more transparency on the budget. We’ve introduced these program changes to manage the budget so we can provide trade allies with more notice of any future changes.
Is Energy Trust prioritizing smaller customers and diversity, equity and inclusion savings?
We are committed to serving all eligible customers, including businesses small and large. Because fewer small commercial and industrial customers have participated in Energy Trust’s programs, especially those in rural areas, we have a goal to reach and serve more of these small and rural businesses.