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Best Markets for Lighting Rebates

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

The top question we get is, “Where are the best lighting rebates in the U.S.?” Customers with multiple locations, nationwide distributors and contractors all want to focus on those regions with the highest rebates. It’s not an easy question to answer because rebates vary so much.

High population doesn’t necessarily equal great rebates. In an ironic twist, the three states with the highest populations are the least beneficial for rebates. When people think of green initiatives, California usually comes to mind first. Over the past few years, their commercial lighting programs have dwindled as they have shifted their focus towards 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 their incentive levels are typically low. For instance, one of their incentives comes out to only $0.05 per 4-ft LED tube

Generous rebates in the Northeast – but with a catch. Traditionally, Northeastern utility providers have offered lucrative rebates, but the process is difficult and the fine print can seem daunting. 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 not in the program.

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

Areas where funding goes quicker than anticipated. Rebate programs typically have set budgets, meaning that program funding can run out for a few months, a year or indefinitely. Typically, we’ve seen that 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 we’ve noticed that several rather large utilities are struggling to meet their program goals.

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, their $6.50 4-ft tube rebate is close to the national average.

Lighting industry veteran Leendert Jan Enthoven founded BriteSwitch in 2008 to help businesses take advantage of all the rebates and incentive programs that exist across the U.S. and Canada. The BriteSwitch database helps electrical contractors, distributors, manufacturers and end-users find lighting rebate programs in their region. Enthoven recently published the following lighting rebate update. Contact him at [email protected] for more information on BriteSwitch.

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