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Commercial update: How you can help as businesses reopen

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As businesses reopen amid COVID-19, owners should consider increased incentives now available to improve their energy efficiency.

BC Hydro enhances offers to help customers with operational savings

As businesses in B.C. reopen, there are opportunities through BC Hydro programs to help them get back on firmer footing faster.

There's now a 20% bonus for all BESI (business energy saving incentives) projects for small and medium business customers and greater opportunities for virtual assessments of businesses as COVID-19 limits access to facilities.

"As the BC government starts to relax restrictions on the likes of dentists and restaurants, our message is: 'we want to help you on your operational savings,'" says Paul Seo, senior program manager with BC Hydro.

For Alliance members, the task is to help customers take advantage of sweetened offers such as the 20% BESI bonus and to get the word out that now could be a great time to submit applications.

Here are some of the highlights of our programs you should be aware of, starting with help for those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

COVID-19 Relief Fund and payment options

Customers with small businesses forced to close due to COVID-19 may be eligible to have their business electricity use charges waived for up to the three months.

Medium and large businesses aren't eligible for the Relief Fund but may be eligible for interest-free bill deferrals and payment plans. They can get more information from their key account manager or by calling 1 800 224 9376.

20% bonus for BESI projects

For small and medium businesses, help with capital costs comes in the form of a 20% bonus on incentives of energy-saving products. That's on top of operational savings that last year averaged about $2,800 per year, per project.

Just announced this month, the bonus applies to project applications made after June 15, 2020, and there's a requirement that they'll be submitted by December 31, 2020. Any projects submitted after that date will lose the 20% bonus.

The incentive is only applicable to small and medium business customers and BESI applications.

$1,500 fixed audit is alive and kicking

The $1,500 fixed audit that we offer for large key account commercial businesses was a huge hit when first introduced in 2018, but customers have been slower to take advantage in the past year. Seo believes that some customers might have thought it was a one-time offer that's no longer available, which isn't the case.

"This offer targets key account customers with smaller buildings that may not qualify for full energy studies," he says. "We've introduced this flat fee of $1,500, which is more of an audit or assessment than a full-blown study. A consultant can come in, do a quick walk-through and then they can send it to us as either a BESI application or a custom incentive."

If there's a great product in demand, let us know

We'd like hear from the Alliance about new technologies in the market.

"If Alliance members have a lot of demands from the market to do this project or this type of product, and we don't have it, then we're encouraging them to let us know," says Seo.

Got an idea? Email the Alliance or call 604 522 4713 in the Lower Mainland or 1 866 522 4713 elsewhere in B.C.