Rebate to reward energy conservation

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:35 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

A rebate program intended to encourage business and industry to install energy-efficient lighting won the approval of the Columbia City Council on Monday night.

The Water and Light Department’s effort targets primarily large commercial and industrial customers and aims to reduce their lighting energy costs by encouraging them to replace aging light fixtures with modern, energy-efficient technologies.

Light retrofitting can save customers 25 to 50 percent on their lighting energy costs. In addition, customers who make the switch will get a $100 rebate for every kilowatt of energy they save. The maximum rebate available is $5,000, and payments will be spread over four years.

Water and Light Director Dan Dasho said the program passes the city’s savings on to customers.

The pilot program expires July 1, 2006. If it meets officials’ expectations, it will be renewed for another year. If previous retrofitting projects are indicators, then the program has a chance.

MBS Textbook Exchange retrofitted its warehouse in February at a cost of $155,000 and expects to save that amount over the span of two years. The company is not eligible for rebates because it chose to retrofit before the council approved the new program.

Mark Pulliam, vice president of operations for MBS, said that even though the company will receive no rebates, it is pleased with the changes. “It was a good decision, a good experience,” Pulliam said. “We are saving energy, and we are happy we did it.”

The rebate proposal faced minimal scrutiny from the council. Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku, who supports the program, questioned who would be eligible for rebates at businesses that are sold after lights have been retrofitted and wondered whether the $5,000 maximum incentive would be sufficient. Dasho said he believes it will be.

Phil Shockley, associate director of Campus Facilities at MU, said that while MU has no plans to partake in the rebate program, it has retrofitted most of the lighting in and around its buildings. He also noted that MU won several national awards for energy conservation.

Water and Light will hold a seminar for eligible customers on June 29 at Stoney Creek Inn, 2601 S. Providence Road. Several lighting vendors will attend to demonstrate their projects.

“We are going to go out with a full-court press approaching our customers,” Dasho said.

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