Save energy: Cash in on Ontario’s rebate programs

By Jeff Shepherd   

Industry Energy Manufacturing electricity energy IESO incentives manufacturing

Programs are tailored to help mitigate high energy costs.

Online tools provide an easy way to identify opportunities. PHOTO: FOTOLIA

Many Ontario manufacturers are missing out on a significant opportunity to reduce their electricity bills. They’re not taking advantage of a range of government incentives.

Ontario’s Save on Energy programs provided through the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) fund energy audits, retrofits, and control electricity demand at peak usage times. Organizations that have used Save on Energy reduced the cost of energy efficiency investments and their energy costs over time. Yet confusion about the programs has become a barrier to use.

Some incentives are regionally based so be proactive about seeking out and understanding what’s available.
Save On Energy’s website allows business owners to uncover a customized list of program incentives. The process can be completed by postal code or utility. Identify the local utility and choose the ‘My Programs’ toolbar to see open programs.

Here’s what the most popular programs offer:


Audit funding. Up to half the cost of a certified energy audit may be covered. An audit assesses current energy use and identifies potential savings through a variety of projects.

Demand response. Manage electricity consumption during peak times in several ways, such as shifting production to off-peak times or switching to on-site power generation. A subset of the program involves electricity generated and sold back to the IESO during peak demand.

Existing building commissioning. Improve the efficiency of chilled water systems that are more than three years old. Offset a portion of costs related to hiring an expert to scope ($2,500), investigate ($30,000), implement ($5,000) and complete ($2,500) the project.

High performance new construction program. Funding is provided to construct or renovate high-efficiency buildings. Major building renovations (including the replacement of commercial lighting or unitary air conditioners) or new buildings engineered to surpass the 2012 Ontario Building Code (OBC) qualify.

Process and systems upgrades program. It assists organizations with complex systems or processes to identify, implement and validate energy efficiency projects. Three streams of funding offer variable incentives based on the size of business and how much electricity is saved over the course of the project. This includes the support of capital investments, engineering studies and consultation with a technical advisor.

Retrofit. Projects provide sustained reductions in peak electricity demand or consumption, and are verfiable over time. This includes upgrades to lighting, motors, air compressors and control systems. Funding is awarded based on total energy savings; however, certain measures and contribution levels may vary.

Reduce costs

Manufacturers have used Save on Energy to successfully reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their operations. Here are some examples:

Industrial lighting I. A management company owning warehouse, commercial and industrial space renovated a 145,300 square-foot Mississauga, Ont. property. Using the retrofit program, 319 new high-efficiency lighting fixtures and 272 motion sensors were installed. Save on Energy provided $42,000 and energy savings were more than $60,000 per year, reducing the project payback to 13 months.

Industrial lighting II. Another retrofit project resulted in annual savings of more than $270,000 annually for an auto parts manufacturer. The company received $156,000 to replace inefficient lighting fixtures with newer fluorescent lamps with motion sensors. The project also reduced temperatures inside the plant, improving the efficiency of other equipment.

Air compressors. Variable speed options lower energy use when full capacity isn’t required. An auto manufacturer used Save On Energy to purchase high-efficiency compressors that reduced peak energy demand by 206 kilowatts to realize cost savings of $168,000 per year.

Manufacturing retrofits. An Ajax, Ont. manufacturer used the retrofit program to install variable-capacity air compressors and lighting. Together, compressors and lighting accounted for up to 40% of operating costs.
Most Save on Energy programs accept applications throughout the year. Be aware of the programs that best suit your needs. You’ll combat the province’s high electricity costs and leverage technology that makes your plant operations more efficient.

Jeff Shepherd is a marketing coordinator at Mentor Works in Cambridge, Ont. It provides assistance and support services related to small business funding grants.


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