Eager to lower operating costs and meet corporate objectives, many of today’s data center operators are implementing highly energy efficient technologies. What some don’t know, however, is that the rewards of being energy efficient can go far beyond savings on monthly energy bills.
Numerous electrical utilities are offering financial rebates to data centers that implement projects that achieve significant energy savings. State and local governments are also offering incentives, particularly for alternative energy project like solar arrays and fuel cells.
Although upgrading data center technology is one way to achieve these subsidies, organizations contemplating new data centers should also investigate these rebate options, as many utilities have programs that contribute to the cost of feasibility studies, and design and engineering of new, energy-efficient data centers.
If your organization is considering an efficiency upgrade, or constructing a new facility, keep the following steps in mind if you are striving to obtain rebates:
1. Do your research
Before developing a project plan or contacting your utility, it is important to do background research or consult with a proven professional. There are many resources available to help organizations with energy efficiency projects who know how to go after the rebates as well as what type of data and planning the utilities and public agencies will want to see. Consultants may also perform verification testing and help navigate the rebate management processes after the project, and in some cases the utility will help offset the cost of hiring a consultant.
Eaton is a Department of Energy-certified Energy Service Company (ESCO), with a national team of experts dedicated to helping organizations optimize building and facility performance. By utilizing expert resources, you can ensure all necessary steps will be taken to obtain maximum payback on efficiency projects.
2. Contact the utility early in the planning process
Even if you are leveraging a consultant, it is important to communicate with your local utility very early in the project. Before agreeing to any type of rebate, the utility will want to see baseline data and examples of how the upgrades will impact overall energy usage.
To gather this baseline data, utilities will most often conduct an energy audit. These audits are often free for the facility operator and may be performed by the utility company or by an independent engineering firm hired by the utility. These audits can cover all aspects of a facility, including HVAC, lighting, electrical distribution, windows and insulation. Another audit will be carried out after the project is completed to ensure the upgrades performed as projected.
Engaging with the utility early in the planning process is also very helpful because utilities will often participate in project planning. Their contribution can go beyond simply providing rebates and often includes suggestions based on their own experience with energy savings projects.
Additionally, always remember that starting the project before gaining agreement from the utility will eliminate the possibility to receive a rebate
3. Know you don’t have to completely overhaul to obtain rebates
Complete infrastructure overhauls can be extremely intensive and require downtime prevention measures. A great way to lower operating costs without scheduling a major project is to replace specific aging products with new, highly-efficient products. In addition to immediately providing payback on monthly utility bills, utilities will often provide rebates and incentives for these types of upgrades.
For example, replacing an older transformer-based UPS that may only be running at 85 percent efficiency with one that operates in the mid- to high-level 90 percent range is an upgrade that many utilities would offer rebate incentives for.
In fact, a colocation provider in Washington, NetRiver, recently replaced aging UPS units with Eaton Power Xpert 9395 UPSs and the Eaton Energy Saver System to raise their UPS efficiency to 99 percent. By working closely with the utility before, during and after the project, the company received nearly $100,000 in net rebate from its local utility. Compounded with nearly $110,000 in annual operating cost savings, NetRiver set itself on course for a complete return on investment in under two years.
John Collins has over 20 years of experience in the data center industry. He joined Eaton in January 2011 and is focused on ensuring Eaton’s data center products and solution offerings evolve with the market. If you are interested in more information about obtaining rebates for a future efficiency project, you can start by visiting this page on Eaton’s website to view the available utility rebates in your location. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) and Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) are also great resources for information about rebate providers in your region.