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It's time to get moving on incentives for key account customers

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Make sure to submit your application for incentives before the March 31, 2020 deadline.

Application deadline for F21 upgrades is March 31, 2020, and work can start now

While product incentive funding for small and medium business customers remains available for the current fiscal year ending on March 31, 2020, incentives funding for larger key account-managed customers ran out in September due to their popularity. The race is on to get applications in for the next fiscal year ending in 2021.

"What we're telling key account-managed customers is to get your application in and start using any surplus capital dollars that are available," said BC Hydro senior program manager Paul Seo, adding that all applications for F21 incentives need to be submitted by March 31, 2020.

That doesn't mean that the work needs to be done by that date. In fact, submission of Business Energy Savings Incentives (BESI) project completion and incentives payouts can't happen until the F21 fiscal begins on April 1. But the work can start any time after the agreement has been issued and signed.

"You can even complete the project before April 1, 2020 – you just can't submit it as complete until after that date," said Seo.

Another big development: custom projects won't require involvement of an energy manager

In the past, key account-managed (KAM) customers were only eligible for more complicated "custom" upgrades when an energy manager was involved. That requirement disappears for fiscal 2021.

"We're now allowing all KAM'd customers to submit custom applications," said Seo, explaining that hundreds of KAM'd customers were unable to apply for custom projects with the energy manager requirement in place.

SMB update: watch for referrals from Business Energy Advisors in targeted B.C. communities

BC Hydro's Business Energy Advisors program returned in 2019, with advisors knocking on customer doors to identify energy-savings opportunities in several targeted communities facing potential load capacity issues.

The role of the advisors is to identify smaller business owners interested in upgrades, then to refer them to Alliance members.

"This is a lead generator for Alliance members," says Seo. "The business energy advisor isn't solutioning or doing any of the Alliance work. Once they've deemed there's interest, they connect them to the Alliance for a referral."

Get on board pilot program for mechanical, refrigeration, and HVAC upgrades

A limited-time offering earlier this past year showed solid interest in allowing key account-managed customers something they don't normally have: access to mechanical, refrigeration, and HVAC upgrades. So BC Hydro is now taking applications for an F21 pilot program.

"These applications can start now," says Seo. "By default, Alliance members can submit an energy study and get that done in about two or three months, then submit an application and complete the project in F21 for KAM'd customers. SMB customers continue to have these limited types of projects under BESI for incentives."

New legislation will remove all incandescent lighting incentives

New legislative standards for lighting will come into effect January 1, 2020.

In B.C., legislation comes into effect for all small diameter reflector lamps, meaning that Halogen MR16 lamps (and GU10 based lamps) will be removed from incentive eligibility. Federal legislation will also impact incandescent lighting, so that all incandescent lighting types will be removed from incentive eligibility. Large diameter halogen lamps – PAR and R lamps – remain eligible for incentives.

"We had previously removed the screw-in replacements from the incentives program, and now the hard-wired retrofits from incandescent to LED lighting are also being removed," says Alliance program delivery specialist Tanya Perewernycky.

Any current rebate applications that have been pre-approved will remain eligible for incentives, but there will be no net-new incentives for those eliminated lighting technologies. "We'll grandfather pre-approved applications though," she said.

The new standards don't just affect the Business Energy Saving Incentives (BESI) program. BC Hydro is creating new lighting incentive calculators to reflect changes across other programs, and Perewernycky says customers can expect those tools will be ready by January.

What's an SMB and what's a KAM? If you're not sure, you're not alone

Key-account managed customers don't arrive with a tattoo on their forehead declaring that status. But Seo offers one rule to remember, and a way of checking that status online, that can help Alliance members learn more quickly if the customer they're dealing with is an SMB or a KAM customer.

"It's not a great rule, but if you've heard of the customer, there's a good chance it's a KAM'd customer," says Seo. "For example, have you heard of Best Buy? Yes, they're a KAM'd customer. Have you heard of this municipality of Richmond? Yes, they're KAM'd. The same goes for school districts, municipalities and most K-12 schools."

But there are exceptions, particularly with customers who fall into the sometimes grey areas of retail, hospitality, and property management. A big chain restaurant is easy to spot as a KAM'd customer, but even a small business in a mall with a single meter operated by a property management company can be defined as a key account-managed company.

Your best bet? If you're dealing with a new customer and aren't sure whether they're a key account-managed customer, contact BC Hydro through alliance@bchydro.com.