Participating in utility energy efficiency programs can be a win-win. Facility owners and managers can get energy conservation equipment installed at drastically reduced costs and contractors have a fantastic opportunity to increase sales and broaden their client bases. BUT getting the final check in your hands at the end of the installation is not as quick or easy as it sounds. After spending many years in the utility program implementation space I picked up some best practices for navigating the rebate and incentive space.
Avoid these 5 common mistakes that can block or derail your utility rebate check:
1. Not tracking paperwork
Program staff (like account reps or energy advisers) can usually provide a list of required program documentation- i.e. all the paperwork that needs to be in place for projects to get approved and incentives paid. Whether you are an owner/manager or a contractor it is critical to keep a log of which documents you have submitted, to whom and when. Missing paperwork is a big factor in the delay of checks.
2. Assuming incentives are up-to-date
Program incentive levels and eligible measures change often. Don’t count solely on public resources like DSIRE or printed program handouts for the most up to date information; they can get stale since updates to these resources take time. Always confirm the work you want to install meets current specs and have someone on program staff confirm incentive levels.
3. Not confirming your contractor is on the current approved list
Approved contractor lists are groomed and updated all the time. Another huge source of delay in check distribution is installation by a vendor not on the currently approved list.
- Owners/Managers: confirm you have the most recent copy of the approved list.
- Contractors: check the list frequently to make sure you are always there; minor issues can disqualify you from the list & you may not get notified right away.
4. Ignoring that feeling that things are taking too long
It never hurts to keep in touch. Following up with program staff when your project reaches key stages will help ensure you are on track for receiving your check in a timely fashion. If things are moving slowly or there is an issue with your paperwork checking in will preempt delays in processing your work.
TIP: Find out how often checks are cut; program staff may batch checks monthly or less frequently depending on their workflows. If you can, try to submit your work before the period cut off. If you miss it you have to wait until the next batch is processed adding weeks or months to your disbursal.
5. Failing to confirm that the people who cut the checks have all the info they need
Checks are typically processed by people other than the staff you work with day to day, if a check gets pulled out of a batch for missing information it will take time to get back to the staff who know you and can help correct. Confirm that program staff has ALL of the required information to cut and mail the check. This can mean means SSN or Tax ID, payee name and correct mailing addresses.
Taina Palombo-Price is senior product marketing manager for Noesis Energy.