June saw the launch of the ninth year of ComEd's Smart Ideas for Your Business program of energy efficiency incentives for commercial and industrial customers. (ComEd is the electric utility that serves northern Illinois, including Chicago and its suburbs.) The utility's retro-commissioning program generated significant energy savings in the immediately preceding program year ending May 31, 2016. A total of 130 business customers of ComEd received more than $2.8 million in retro-commissioning service incentives over 12 months, yielding 260,000 megawatt-hours of energy reduction.
And the new program year underway in June is already bringing the benefits of the retro-commissioning incentive program to a host of new customers. For the current year, ComEd's goals include targeting energy savings of more than 280,000 megawatt-hours and distributing more than $3.44 million in service incentives. Service incentives are now available for ComEd customers whose buildings have as little as 100kW peak demand, with incentives of $10,000 to $100,000 available here.
The design of retro-commissioning programs for customers of different sizes has changed too. Participating customers of all sizes are financially incentivized by ComEd to increase their energy efficiency investments, implement energy reduction measures more quickly, and demonstrate increased energy savings beyond the targeted energy reduction. In some instances, customers' financial commitment levels have been reduced from those required in prior years.
The administrator of ComEd's retro-commissioning program conducts a rigorous evaluation of retro-commissioning services providers annually. The results of this review are another critical benefit for participating customers. They have the opportunity to evaluate potential service providers based upon prior years' results, quality of deliverables, and customer service—all attributes evaluated in each service provider's annual performance ranking. Twenty-eight organizations have been deemed authorized to provide services under the ComEd program, but a small handful of these organizations—including Sieben Energy Associates—account for the vast majority of completed projects.
The ComEd retro-commissioning program is a utility-run program funded by a ratepayer tariff. The program funds 100% of the cost of the service provider's professional fees. (Sieben Energy Associates has been an active service provider in the program since the second year.) Building owners invest only in the energy reduction measures they select, with a minimum commitment of $5,000 towards implementation costs.
If customers of ComEd are not carefully inspecting their bills, they may not realize how much money they are paying into the common program fund through the tariff for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Adjustments. The current rate is $0.00255 per kWh for most business customers of ComEd. (Very large customers pay a somewhat lower rate.) At this rate, customers are contributing $2,550 into the utility's energy efficiency program annually for every 1,000,000 kWh consumed.