Changes in Efficiency Maine Incentive Levels for Businesses

Efficiency Maine clarified today several key points about its recent announcement regarding incentives for business lighting projects:

 

  1. Efficiency Maine has not retroactively cut incentives for qualifying lighting upgrades at Maine businesses. Contractors working in Efficiency Maine’s Business Incentive Program were notified on March 19, 2015 that some incentive levels would need to be reduced due to rising demand for the program funds, a limited budget, and falling LED prices.

 

  1. This information applies only to lighting incentives for the Business Incentive Program. It only impacts retrofits of lighting. It does not impact Efficiency Maine programs or incentives that target new construction or residential customers or thermal saving programs.

 

  1. Projects that did not request and do not require pre-approval will receive the original, higher incentive provided the project was enrolled at Efficiency Maine by March 31, 2015, the same as the deadline indicated in the original notice of March 19. The deadline for enrollment is unchanged. However, the second notice from April 3, 2015 has clarified that due to the overwhelming response from the contractors and consumers, these projects will need to be completed and paperwork filed by May 31, 2015 in order to receive the old, higher incentive.

 

  1. All business lighting projects that applied for and received pre-approval prior to March 19 from Efficiency Maine will receive the old, higher rebates if the projects are completed within six months. All business lighting projects that have not yet received pre-approval from Efficiency Maine will be eligible for the new, lower rebate amount. The notice issued by Efficiency Maine on April 3 incorrectly indicated that projects pre-approved on or after March 13 would be impacted. The correct date is March 19.

 

  1. Efficiency Maine’s approach to handling pre-approval applications was designed to provide maximum consumer protection. Said Executive Director Michael Stoddard, “While we understand that customers are frustrated and disappointed that incentive levels are reduced, Efficiency Maine adopted our approach to avoid the situation where a customer would purchase and install equipment before realizing that the incentives were lowered.” The customers who filed for or received pre-approval after March 19 will receive full notice of the new, lower incentives so that they can decide if they still want to go ahead with the project given the reality of the limited available budget.

 

  1. Efficiency Maine also realizes that this presents a frustrating situation for those contractors who worked hard to market and get pre-approval for applications submitted before March 31. Contractors had hoped, as Efficiency Maine did, that there would be sufficient funds to pay the old, higher incentives for all applications received by the deadline and that it was reasonable of them to indicate to their customers that the higher incentives might still be available when final application results were tallied. Unfortunately due to the overwhelming response in number of applications, there is not sufficient funding to continue paying the old incentive levels for applications Efficiency Maine received by March 31. Said Stoddard, “The contractor community in Maine is the backbone of this program. Contractors have made this program a success and are responsible for tremendous results in lowering electricity costs for Maine’s energy consumers.” Efficiency Maine takes responsibility for the confusion that might understandably result from making these changes, but we are doing the best we can to ensure that customers are fully informed about the size of incentives that will apply before making a final purchase while keeping the program within the available funds.

 

  1. Efficiency Maine recognizes that the lower incentives are disappointing and may cause some customers to cancel or delay the start of their projects. However, this approach avoids the greater hardship that would be caused if the projects moved forward and the program’s budget had been depleted prior to honoring project incentives. Please note that this action must be taken due to the robust program participation rate. It will allow the program and lighting retrofits to continue into the year ahead.