Replacing an aging air conditioning unit with one that's more energy efficient can help business owners save money on their Orlando Utilities Commission bill, thanks to a new conservation rebate program. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – In the long summer months in Central Florida, one thing everyone can count on is escaping the sweltering heat and humidity by doing something pretty simple: going to work.
Their office is almost certain to be well air conditioned, a place where employees are given a comfortable work environment free of the heat right outside their office window.
At the same time, all those air conditioning units humming away at offices large and small across the city add up to a lot of energy usage for a provider like the Orlando Utilities Commission.
That’s why OUC decided this year to hire a conservation coordinator, in an effort to find ways for business owners and residents alike to reduce their energy usage – and not surprisingly, OUC is ready to dole out incentives to ensure they do that, said Kent Hobart.
“They brought me in for a new conservation program,” Hobart said today, as he addressed a group of business owners who are members of the Orlando chapter of the Building and Office Managers Association. “We tried to develop an all-encompassing program. Our goal is to focus on peak demand and consumption.”
Facing the business owners at the monthly meeting held at the Sorosis Club in downtown Orlando, Hobart said not everyone is aware of the heavy demand that the hot summer months place on utility providers like OUC.
“When you all reach your peak, it’s going to be in the middle of summer,” Hobart said. “And we’ve got to have a power plant available to meet that peak demand.”
In a city that continues to experience new residential and commercial growth, Hobart said more people and businesses means increased usage. And if a new power plant doesn’t get built, it becomes harder to accommodate that demand.
Unless, he added, business owners and residents voluntarily reduce the amount of electricity they use. That’s where Hobart and his conservation program comes in.
“What I’m trying to do,” he said, “is get you to reduce your peak demand.”
Eligible businesses, he said, can get a rebate of $250 per kilowatt for a reduction in peak kilowatt use. OUC has a Commercial & Industrial Custom Incentive Program aimed to encourage businesses to make investments in new more energy efficient equipment, such as ceiling insulation, new heat pump, duct repairs, or a coll reflective roof.

Customers receive incentives based on the reduction in peak demand that their new products achieve. Savings incentives are paid for the maximum one-hour average demand reduction that happens after newly installed equipment and systems start operating at peak conditions during the summer months.
The $250 savings applies during the Summer Demand period, defined by OUC as weekdays between noon and 9 p.m. from April through October.
The incentives are paid as a credit on the customer’s OUC bills and offers a maximum of $50,000 per project and $100 per customer, which is available annually.
“What we’re trying to get you to do is take a broader look at your building,” Hobart said. “Anything you do in your facilities when you make an investment in reducing your peak demand, we can probably give you a rebate for it.”
Businesses that make the investment, he said, also qualify for a federal tax credit for doing these projects, Hobart said.
“There are real opportunities out there for people to save money, and maybe it’s you,” he said.
To qualify, business owners need to invest in something like high efficiency florescent lighting or lighting controls to reduce operating hours; a package cooling unit replacement or thermal storage cooling systems; air cooling and refrigeration compressor replacement projects; or variable-speed drive installations on industrial fans and pumps.
To start the process, “You have to fill out an application that explains this project to OUC,” Hobart said. “I come out and visit your site.”
If the project is given a green light, once it gets installed, “I come back and visit and make sure you’re making the savings in usage you promised you would,” Hobart said.
If so, “We will pay you a credit every month on your bill.”
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