HECO doubling rebates
By Christine Terada
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Christine Terada
Hawaiian Electric Co. said it will double rebates for businesses that install its energy efficiency technologies in a move it says will save businesses money while helping the environment and reducing electricity demand on O'ahu.
"These higher cash rebates aim to aggressively encourage businesses to add efficiency upgrades by reducing the initial costs. And the energy savings will continue to deliver dollar savings each and every month," said Dave Waller, HECO vice president for customer solutions. "In addition to adding cash to the bottom line, upgrading can improve the indoor work environment, customer satisfaction and employee productivity."
In the wake of rising energy prices and last week's blackout on O'ahu, responses to the new rebates have been positive, said Darren Kimura, president and CEO of Energy Industries, a Honolulu-based company that specializes in energy management and conservation programs for commercial and industrial customers.
Kimura said HECO's announcement has generated "one of the biggest responses from businesses," prompting Energy Industries' seven salespeople to set aside other projects for the time being. Kimura estimated that the new rebates have produced a 40 percent increase in the number of participating businesses, with more and more businesses understanding that energy has become "a critical situation."
HECO's rebate for installing T8 fluorescent lighting under the "Energy$olutions for Business" program will rise to $5.60 per lamp or $22.40 for a standard four-lamp fixture that may cost $50 to $75 to retrofit. With normal use, each new fixture will save about $35 a year in electricity costs. In addition, the rebate for a 10-ton air-conditioning system with an energy efficiency rating of 12 is doubled from $700 to $1,400 per system installed. Savings with the more efficient system would be about $800 per year, eventually making up for the high initial costs.
HECO recently received Public Utilities Commission approval for the more aggressive rebates, and applications processed after April 26 will be paid based on the new rebate level. Additionally, a restriction on rebates for customized applications with a payback of less than two years is eliminated, making upgrades more attractive to businesses.
HECO will host a meeting on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to notify representatives of the lighting industry of the new rebates. The meeting will be at the American Savings building, 1001 Bishop St. Also on the agenda is the proposed formation of a "Hawaii Trade Alliance" which aims to stimulate the energy-efficient lighting market in Hawai'i. For more information, call 543-4790.