Stories & Features

Benefits beyond bill savings

Image of fluorescent tubes being replaced
Lighting is just one product that has incentives available from BC Hydro – but you'll see savings on more than just your electricity.

Incentives for businesses can be a win-win for BC Hydro and our customers

There's never been a better time to investigate how BC Hydro's energy saving incentives for businesses can help your business. It's all done through a self-serve online portal where you can access available incentives for your business' energy efficient projects, such as LED lighting upgrades.

We sat down with Ben Gardiner, Business Energy Advisor with BC Hydro to find out about how this incentive program can help your business, how to make a case for the benefits of upgrading to energy efficient equipment, and where to go for more information. We began by asking why would BC Hydro be incentivizing businesses to use less power?

"While BC Hydro does produce clean, green electricity, it also makes sense to keep the infrastructure to produce it to a minimum. Very simply, it's more cost effective to encourage people to save energy than it is to generate and distribute new energy to customers," says Gardiner. "It reduces our transmission distribution load and helps to spread what we have out a little farther, helping the whole province do more for less."

Upgrading saves more than just electricity

Gardiner works with customers onsite nearly every day. And he sees a common theme among those who have taken advantage of these energy saving incentives for business to upgrade their systems. "You'd imagine people are focused on annual savings on their electricity bill by implementing energy efficient solutions. But the main reason a customer would typically want to convert to an LED or high efficiency technology is for improved reliability, lighting quality, and reduced maintenance costs."

"Let's say you have a multi-business property, like a strip mall with an illuminated sign along the whole perimeter of the building. When one of those tubes goes – and they have lots of tubes in them – you have to call a specific sign company to come and take that sign apart, change that one tube and then put that sign back together so the light works again. LED lighting not only lasts much longer than fluorescent lighting, but it also uses up to 18x less electricity, reducing the need for service calls and replacement bulbs, along with lower energy bills."

Gardiner also sees this in large warehouses, where it's just not cost efficient to have somebody change individual bulbs. "It's common for them to wait until several bulbs have failed, and continue operating with inadequate lighting until the cost can be justified."

How incentives help make a business case

Today's commercial LED products often come with a 7-10 year warranty and often pay for themselves within 1-2 years, especially with a 20-30% incentive from BC Hydro. "I'll help customers reinforce the business case for why it would make sense. And often it's the maintenance savings that are the trigger for projects going forward," says Gardiner.

The size of incentive your business receives is linked to how much energy you're projected to save. The biggest ones are usually always-on linear signage and HID (high intensity discharge) lighting, often found in parking lots, "For example," says Gardiner, "The auto malls that move to LED lighting use roughly a third of the electricity they used to."

How to get started

You can find out more by visiting the business incentives page or by calling the Business Help Desk at 1 866 522 4713 to describe the problem you're trying to solve and arrange to talk to Ben or another business energy advisor. Gardiner also travels extensively across BC, so there's every possibility he might be able to come and meet you at your location.

The other route is to go straight to an approved industry professional, also known as an Alliance Member.  "There's a network of approved distributors and contractors throughout the province that can help you with your project and recommend the right solution. It's very important to have the right product for the application. Plus, they can also help with the application process, particularly the technical portion. Once your application has been approved, you can then buy the products and hire a contractor. Always make sure you have an approved application before starting your project to ensure your incentive isn't jeopardized."

As Gardiner says, "It really is a no-brainer. If you're planning to grow your business, it's in your interests to get started on an incentive application today so you can invest those future annual bill savings back into your business."