Rebates Are Going Away – Act Now!
Joel Zook, Energy Planner
Home and Business owners thinking about upgrading their insulation, heating or cooling systems should act now before rebates lower, or disappear in early 2019. This article outlines the changes that are coming to the energy efficiency programs across Iowa.
Iowa’s investor-owned utilities have filed plans for their 2019 energy efficiency programs. The proposed programs completely remove rebates for some measures (building insulation and high-efficiency boilers). Other proposed rebate amounts for equipment (furnaces and air conditioners) are dramatically lowered.
In addition to the changes in rebates, proposed cuts to the energy efficiency programs will also eliminate programs such as in-person energy assessments for homes and small businesses, new construction rebate programs, and funding for tree planting programs. Cuts to these programs come in response to a new Iowa law that limits the amount of funding dedicated to the state’s investor-owned utility energy efficiency funds. Overall program spending will likely be cut by half or more.
The largest and most dramatic cuts will be made to rebates and programs designed to help use natural gas more efficiently. In-home energy audits for residential customers will be replaced with an online “do-it-yourself” energy assessment. Small business energy assessments are proposed to be eliminated altogether. Furnace and water heater rebate amounts will drop and insulation, air sealing, and boiler rebates will be eliminated in the proposed 2019 plan. In northeast Iowa, these changes will affect customers of Black Hills Energy.
Alliant Energy is also proposing cuts to its energy efficiency program. This will affect its electric customers in northeast Iowa. Alliant is also proposing to eliminate its small business energy assessments and to lower some of the rebate amount, notably air conditioner and geothermal rebates.
Below you’ll find key changes to Black Hills’ and Alliant’s residential and commercial rebate programs.
Both Black Hills Energy and Alliant Energy have rebates for commercial Energy Star rated cooking and refrigeration equipment. Those rebates are also lowered in the proposed 2019 rebates.
Dale Elsbernd, of Casper Heating and Plumbing, is sorry to see some of the proposed changes. “The rebate program has helped our clients upgrade their new heating or cooling systems to higher efficiency models, as it helps offset the additional cost, which is good for everybody. The rebate amounts that the utility companies are proposing are a fraction of what they used to be, they are not a big incentive to get people to upgrade to high efficiency, they really need to be higher.”
It’s important to note that there will still be rebates in 2019, and some, like Alliant Energy’s lighting rebates, will be at similar levels to those existing now. Customers are able to file rebate claims for the 2018 rebate levels through March 2019 so there’s still time to get a project done with the existing rebate levels.
Elsbernd recommends “Call your local Heating-Cooling contractor and get on the list for a replacement or upgrade, this program will change soon enough. They need to take advantage of the additional money available now. If your system is older than 16 years, it may pay to replace it now.”
More information can also be found online at https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/save-money-energy and https://alliantenergy.com/rebates