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Fiscal 2020 update: 4 things you need to know

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Whether you're considering a switch to electricity from fossil fuels or are just looking for incentives, we've got options that can help your business manage its energy costs.

Incentives available for businesses big and small

BC Hydro's programs for businesses saved customers close to an additional 10 gigawatt hours of electricity in the 12 months leading up to April 2019. To put that in perspective, that's enough electricity to power more than 900 B.C. homes a year.

Not surprisingly, incentives are a big part of BC Hydro's programs for the current fiscal year (2020). Last year's decision to reopen the Industrial self-serve incentive program (SIP), instead of limiting it to those customers who were participating in BC Hydro's strategic energy management initiative, has been a hit. And it's been a win-win for BC Hydro, as the change hasn't come at the expense of interest in the deeper dive of strategic energy management.

"Even after we'd lifted [SEM] as a requirement to access certain incentives, we found customers were still interested in spending the time to do some of our studies and to work with our consultants to look for savings outside of our incentives," says Vinson Lee, an industrial program specialist with BC Hydro.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of business customers continue to be eligible for the Business energy saving incentives (BESI) program. Check out the list of retrofits that qualify for incentive funding.

But all is not as it was a year ago. The BC Government's push for low-carbon electrification – leaning on electricity to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions – has introduced several CleanBC programs from the government and a whole lot of exploration. Also, expect BC Hydro to continue experimenting with geographically-specific programs aimed at reducing peak loads in certain areas to defer costly infrastructure upgrades.

Here are four ways customers – and Alliance members – can get the most out of BC Hydro programs and expertise in the next year:

1. Get familiar with the SEM Hub

The Strategic Energy Management Hub was designed to bring BC Hydro's two main programs – self-serve incentive program (SIP) and business energy saving incentives (BESI) – into one online system. The switch to email-based access to online tools from the former account-based entry has been well received by our customers and they are discovering the benefits of having all their applications for the two programs in one place.

The SEM Hub provides a look at projects underway and in the past. And for larger customers, the ability to look at several sites provides a bigger picture of a company's energy use and potential for savings.

"With the SEM Hub, if you have multiple facilities, you can see them all, and can check the consumption of each one," says Robert Raymond, BC Hydro's industrial program manager. "You can focus on which projects make the most sense to go after first."

If you or your customer needs help with the SEM Hub, use the quick-start guides available on the main page of the Hub. If you still need help, don't hesitate to call BC Hydro.

2. Put exterior lighting upgrades on your list

Many commercial customers are familiar with lighting incentives available under the BESI program, and many have taken advantage of cost-saving upgrades to interior lighting. It's time to look outside.

"I think exterior lighting is where the biggest savings are, and some of the largest incentives," says Tanya Perewernycky, a program delivery specialist with BC Hydro.

Outdoor lighting upgrades include conversions of HID lighting to LED, and legacy signage (neon or fluorescent) to LED strips. BC Hydro has seen some great opportunities with auto dealerships replacing 400W and 1,000W fixtures to LED.

3. Don't forget to complete the 'paperwork' on your project

It happens every year, according to Perewernycky. Many customers get a project approved for an incentive, complete the project, then don't get around to the final steps in securing the incentive.

"There were quite a few projects this past year that had been completed months earlier and the customer didn't get around to the paperwork," she says. "Some customers thought it had been completed and it wasn't.

It's simple. Get it done and get paid.

4. Before you switch from gas to electricity, talk to BC Hydro

The BC Government's push to reduce businesses' use of fossil fuels has begun in earnest, and there are some attractive programs out there including the new Specialty-Use Vehicle Incentive Program (SUVI) that encourages a switch to electric or hydrogen fuel cell for everything from forklifts to buses.

As such "low-carbon electrification" initiatives shift a company's consumption toward renewable electricity and away from fossil fuel-based energy, the additional electrical load can be substantial.

"If that's the case, we may have to do lot of work up front on interconnections to make sure a customer has the load available to use," says BC Hydro's Raymond. "So before a customer goes ahead with an electrification project, they need to get us involved early on."

How to reach the Alliance
604 522 4713 – Lower Mainland
1 866 522 4713 – Elsewhere in B.C.