Exploring Energy Efficient Rebates for San Diego Gas and Electric

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Are you a commercial member of San Diego Gas and Electric, or SDGE?

If your business operates in San Diego County or southern Orange County and you receive natural gas or electricity to your location, the answer is likely “yes.”

If so, did you know that you could save a significant amount of money by making certain upgrades around your property?

To help local business owners become as eco-friendly as possible, SDGE provides energy-efficient rebates on certain qualifying purchases. Today, we’re sharing what those rebates include and how you can cash in on them soon.

Are you ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

Tax Law energy-efficient rebates

SDGE Instant Lighting Rebates

Research from ENERGY STAR reveals that making the switch from fluorescent or incandescent lightbulbs to more energy-efficient LED models can reduce overall energy outputs by up to 90%. Not only do these bulbs last around 35 to 50 times longer than incandescents, but they also last two to five times longer than fluorescents. 

This reduces your total operating expenses, along with your cooling costs, as LEDs emit less heat. That means money back in your pocket. 

Want to save even more money as you search for a lighting upgrade? Check with SDGE before you go shopping.

To encourage you to make the switch to energy-efficient lighting, SDGE offers instant lighting rebates on some purchases. This helps to make the investment even more affordable.

Understanding Which Products Qualify

First, download SDGE’s list of lighting products that are eligible for the instant lighting rebate.

The chart includes the product code for each item, along with a product description and the rebate amount per unit. The rebates range from $2.00 per lamp for a commercial LED candelabra to $40.00 per fixture for a qualifying interior LED high-bay luminaire.

Lighting Rebate Eligibility Requirements

Not every local business owner who references the list and buys a product on it will be eligible for the rebate from SDGE. The following qualifying conditions apply:

  • The fixtures must be hard-wired.
  • All customers must have an SDGE commercial electric account.
  • All new fixtures, retrofit kits, and accessories must have the right Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Electrical Testing Labs (ETL) ma
  • All fixtures, retrofit kits and accessories must be compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).
  • The wattage of the new equipment must be lower than the wattage of the former equipment.
  • When defining an interior space, parking garages do not qualify but rental storage warehouses do.

Even if you think that you meet all the specifications on this list, you should still read the terms and definitions described within the regulation to make sure that your purchase will qualify.

One way to make sure you’re on the approved list? The SDGE offers many of the energy-efficient lighting upgrades for free or at a discount to qualified customers through its Business Energy Solutions program. Extended to commercial customers with a monthly electrical demand of fewer than 200kW qualify for this program. Visit the website or call the SDGE Energy Savings Center to see if this is a viable route for your business.

Making Your Energy-Efficient Lighting Purchase

Once you’ve found the lighting product you need and you’re sure it qualifies, your next step is to buy it. To do so, you can visit an SDGE participating distributor. You can find a list of those distributors here.

Once you’re in the store, an associate should be able to show you exactly where to find the item you need. If you’re just browsing, look for the SDGE tag to find qualifying products. 

Then, when it’s time to check out, explain to the sales associate why you’re visiting. This associate will help you fill out a Qualifying Purchaser Acknowledgement Form, or QPAF. While you’re welcome to fill the form out in the store, you can save money by downloading it first, completing it for the product in question, and bringing it with you to the store.

Then, when the form is completed, your sales associate can ring up the price of your lighting product, minus the amount of the associated rebate. Voila! Instant savings. 

SDGE Non-Lighting Rebates

SDGE isn’t only interested in helping your business upgrade its lighting approach to a more energy-efficient model. In fact, the company offers rebates on a wide range of other, non-lighting energy-efficient products and solutions designed to meet a range of business needs.

Understanding Which Products Qualify

From electric steam cookers and anti-sweat heat (ASH) heat controls to 30-gallon water heaters and outdoor pool covers, the catalog of qualifying products is vast. Take a look at the pages of products to determine if your prospective upgrade is included. 

As with the lighting-specific rebates, this list also includes a product code, product description and the amount of rebate per unit. Did you know you could be eligible for a $2,000 savings if you purchase a qualifying gas steam cooker? Or, you could also receive $5,300 for purchasing an electric combination with more than 28 pans!

It pays to do your homework and understand which purchases qualify. Then, you can use this guide when it’s time to go shopping for the business!

Non-Lighting Rebate Eligibility Requirements

While your business can save money with any energy-efficient upgrade it makes, not all purchases qualify for the SDGE rebate program. The following restrictions are in place to help determine eligibility:

  • All customers must have an active SDGE account (commercial, industrial or agricultural).
  • Customers must install the products and make sure they’re operational prior to applying for the rebate.
  • Customers must use the rebate to buy new energy-efficient equipment. They cannot use it to help cover the cost of used or rebuilt equipment.
  • Customers must prove that the product in question meets energy-efficiency requirements.
  • Customers must ensure that the product is installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and meets all local, state, and national building codes.

As with the lighting-specific upgrades, there are some products in the non-lighting category that are offered for free or at a reduced rate to customers in the SDGE Business Energy Solutions program. If you’re a commercial customer with a monthly electrical demand of less than 200 kW, it’s worth it to check and see if you qualify. You can visit the SDGE website or contact the Energy Savings Center for more information. 

Making Your Energy-Efficient Non-Lighting Purchase

Once you’ve perused the list of qualifying products and determined the ones that your business could use, you’re ready for the next step.

Before you start shopping, it’s important to check and see if your project requires a site inspection before you’re allowed to modify existing equipment or purchase new equipment. Companies that are required to conduct this inspection include those that:

  • Are applying for on-bill financing 
  • Want to install a product found on the catalog’s Database for Energy Efficiency Resources section
  • Want to install certain other eligible products found within the product catalog
  • Participated in the SDGE rebate program previously, within the last five years

If you determine that your project does need a pre-inspection, you can submit an online application to initiate that process.

Once it receives your application, SDGE can take up to three days to respond. You’ll need to receive a notice before you can purchase, modify or install any energy-efficient equipment. If you purchase equipment before the pre-inspection is completed, it will not be eligible for the rebate.

If SDGE reviews your application and determines that your project does not require a site inspection, you’ll hear back in three days and are free to proceed with the next part of the process. Regardless of the response that you hear back, be sure to download and save the Application Confirmation for future record.

Finally, your last step is to complete and submit the SDGE’s Business Rebates Program Application. The site inspection application you completed previously can help you fill out this form. When it’s completed, print and sign the document. Then, upload it to your SDGE account on the Installation Documents portal. You’ll also need to include a copy of your W-9 in the same portal.

When you’re ready to make your purchase, contact an SDGE trade professional to help you procure and install it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and all associated codes. These professionals cover a range of industry needs, including:

  • Contractors
  • Manufacturers
  • Electricians
  • Equipment dealers 

The SDGE directory includes pre-vetted professionals who already meet their rigorous quality and performance standards. This way, you can be sure you’re teaming with a qualified expert who can get the job done right. 

SDGE Incentives

As if the idea of getting money back on a purchase that already saves your business money isn’t enough, SDGE also offers different kinds of incentives to encourage you to make the switch to energy-efficient products.

These are designed to help you cover the cost of new, high-efficiency systems or products. For instance, the current incentive rates are as follows:

  • Electric: $.12 per kWh
  • Gas: $1.25 per Therm
  • Peak Reduction: $150 per kWh 

These incentives are especially attractive to busy business owners who anticipate a wide energy-efficient rollout. This is because the savings are scalable, meaning the more energy you save, the more money back you receive!

Estimating Your Energy Savings

SDGE will use sophisticated estimation software and engineering calculations to estimate your overall energy savings in either kilowatt hours (kWh) or therms. These reflect the units that you save after you install the new system.

Incentive Eligibility Requirements

To be deemed eligible for an SDGE incentive, your business must:

  • Have an active SDGE account (commercial, industrial or agricultural)
  • Pay the public goods charge or demand-side management surcharge (or both)

Note that this incentive isn’t limited by business size or industry. Rather, any sized business is eligible to qualify regardless of the project scope.

However, SDGE does require that the equipment you install meet a few requirements, including:

  • Must exceed government standards
  • Must be in operation for five years or more
  • Must not be installed in coordination or overlap with any other SDGE incentive programs

If your project includes early retirement or retrofit add-on measures, you could receive an incentive that equals 50% of the full measure cost. Or, if yours fall under the “Replace on Burnout and New Load” category, your rebate could equal 100% of the incremental measure.

Applying for Your SDGE Incentive

To apply for your incentive, you should first complete and submit the SDGE Pre-Application Form, found on tab 2 of the Energy Efficiency Business Incentive Application.

The data on this form will help SDGE’s engineering team better understand your project and begin providing assistance.

Once the team confirms that your project is eligible for an incentive, you can move on to tab 3 and tab 4 of the online application. Note that you’ll have to complete the Calculated Lighting Equipment Survey Table if your project includes an energy-efficient lighting upgrade that isn’t available through the lighting-specific rebate program. 

When you submit the application, it will go to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for review. From there, SDGE will begin conducting pre-inspections at your site. All the while, SDGE engineers will work closely with your company to complete all required measurement and verification processes.

When all pre-project steps are completed, all parties will sign an EEBI Project Agreement. Then, SDGE will execute the agreement and send you a Notice to Proceed (NTP). When the project is finished, you’ll submit your Installation Report, W-9, and all invoices. The SDGE will review these documents, submit them for CPUC review, and complete a post-inspection. 

When that last step is finished and SDGE receives a confirmation from CPUC, you’ll receive your incentive funds!

Tax Law energy-efficient rebates

Claim Your SDGE Energy-Efficient Rebates Today

It’s never wise to leave money on the table.

In your quest to become a more energy-efficient organization, are you gearing up to make some major installations, replacements or retrofits to your office?

If so, remember to check all of your equipment against the products supported by SDGE. By making a qualifying purchase, you could earn energy-efficient rebates and incentives for your company, helping to offset the costs associated with the purchase and installation. 

To learn more about ways to save, especially come tax time, be sure to contact us today.

Managing Partner of Silver Tax Group, author of the book “Stop the IRS”. Practicing a variety of tax issues, regulations, laws and rights. Specializing exclusively on tax matters involving IRS audits, negotiation, settlements & compromises.

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