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Energy Incentive Programs, Texas

Updated June 2015

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) oversees a set of statewide "standard offer" and market transformation programs that are available to customers in each of the investor-owned utilities' service territories. The programs are funded through a systems benefits charge on transmission and distribution services and are administered by the utilities. In 2014 almost $240 million was budgeted for energy efficiency and load management across all program types (including residential and low-income). To access utility-by-utility information on specific offerings visit the Texas Energy Efficiency web site.

The Commercial and Industrial Standard Offer Program (CISOP) offered through the utilities provides incentives to implement energy efficiency measures in retrofits, renovations, and new construction projects. Direct links to the various utilities' programs are as follows:

Under the CISOP incentives are paid for both energy and summer peak demand savings and are based on either deemed savings values or verified peak demand and energy savings. Eligible efficiency technologies include high-efficiency lighting, lighting controls, heat pumps, chillers, motors, variable speed drives, refrigeration units and custom measures. Some utilities, e.g., Xcel, allow certain renewable energy measures as well. Though incentive levels and eligibility requirements vary across the utilities in Texas, the basic program requirement is that customers have a minimum peak demand of 100-250 kW (depending on the utility). As required by state legislation, the utilities do not perform energy efficiency services, but instead contract with Project Sponsors, who may include service providers (e.g., national or local ESCOs or other contractors), commercial property developers, design/build firms, and individual customers who implement energy efficiency measures in their own non-residential facilities. Conservation measures are not prescribed, but together must provide at least 10 to 50 kW (depending on the utility) of summer peak demand savings per project.

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

CenterPoint offers additional programs of interest to federal customers including the following:

  • The Retro-Commissioning (RCx) program is geared towards identifying low-cost peak demand and energy savings for facilities that have a minimum of 100,000 sq. ft of air-conditioned space. Recommended projects and potential savings are identified through a preliminary assessment and an investigation report, which includes an audit. Implementation of such measures can be completed in-house or by contractors, and will be followed up by a verification phase. A $0.03/sq ft commitment is required from the customer toward the implementation of RCx measures with less than a 1.5 year simple payback (or the total cost of measures if less than the $0.03/sq ft value).

  • The Commercial LED Lighting program offers incentives based on first-year savings for the installation of qualified lighting equipment. However, check the CenterPoint web site to ensure funding is still available for the current year.

El Paso Electric customers with over 100 kW of maximum demand are eligible for the Large Commercial Solutions program, which provides technical assistance and cash incentives ($240 per reduced peak kW). Qualifying efficiency and peak reduction measures in new construction and retrofit projects include lighting, HVAC, and roofing.

Oncor offers a variety of efficiency programs for non-residential customers:

  • The Government Facilities program provides free energy use analysis, benchmarking reporting, and engineering support to identify measures and incentives to reduce costs.

  • The Basic Commercial program offers incentives through service providers (e.g., ESCOs) for lighting, HVAC, chillers, Energy Star roofs, and food service measures. Incentive amounts vary by measure.

A number of municipal utilities and rural cooperatives also offer energy efficiency programs to their customers:

Austin Energy's extensive Power$aver™ Program includes prescriptive and custom incentives for a wide range of projects in existing buildings and new construction.

CPS Energy (San Antonio's municipal utility) provides the following incentive programs:

  • Heating and Cooling Equipment, which offers rebates on the installation of efficient HVAC, package terminal air conditioners, heat pumps, and chillers. Rebate amount is based on the efficiency of equipment and tonnage.

  • Lighting offers rebates up to 60% of the cost for efficient lighting. Rebate amount is based on kWh first-year savings.

  • New Construction covers projects that address whole building performance and are at least 15% more energy efficient than the City of San Antonio building code. The program offers three incentive tiers for both energy savings ($0.08/kWh to $0.20/kWh) and peak demand reduction ($125/kW to $200/kW) based on how much the project's efficiency exceeds code.

  • Commercial Custom covers innovative or custom technologies not listed under other programs.

Denton Municipal Electric (DME)'s GreenSense Rebates program offers incentives for the installation of energy-efficient HVAC equipment, smart thermostats, air ducts, attic insulation, and attic reflective radiant barriers. Upgrades must be installed by registered DME Authorized Installers.

Pedernales Electric Cooperative's Commercial Rebate program offers incentives for the installation of energy-efficient lighting, HVAC equipment, and variable frequency drives. Existing buildings and new construction are eligible for rebates up to $17,500 per measure type (up to $35,000 per project site).

Texas Gas Service offers rebates to its commercial customers for the purchase of high-efficiency natural gas-fired hydronic heating, furnaces, dryers, and food service equipment, as well as for solar water heating installations that have natural gas backup.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

Federal customers can receive payments for providing load curtailments through several programs offered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT):

  • Load Resource Participation in the Ancillary Services Markets: Customer load curtailment offers can be bid into a number of different ancillary services markets. Participation requirements and compensation depend upon the particular market, and all programs require that customers have real-time telemetry installed. For the Responsive Reserve and Non-Spinning Reserve markets, capacity payments are made regardless of whether the customer is called upon to curtail.

  • Voluntary Load Response: Customers may be able to receive financial benefit from their electricity provider for curtailing load at their discretion, when wholesale electricity prices are high.

  • Emergency Response Service (ERS): As with the Load Resource program, customers bid to provide load reductions. However, this program is aimed solely at alleviating emergency (as opposed to high price) conditions on the ERCOT grid.

For all programs, the customer participates through its Retail Electricity Provider (REP), and transactions with ERCOT are conducted by the qualified scheduling entity (QSE) for the customer's REP. The specific terms for customer participation, including compensation, are based on the contractual arrangement between the customer and their REP.

CenterPoint Energy's Commercial Load Management program provides up to $35/kW to participants for curtailing load for up to four hours during four unscheduled peak (1-7 p.m.) events during summer weekdays (June 1-September 30). There is also a single one- to three-hour scheduled curtailment each year to validate reduction capability. Participants must have a minimum aggregate peak demand of 750 kW (at least 250 kW per individual site) and agree to curtail at least 100 kW per site. Aggregators (e.g., ESCOs or curtailment service providers) can also participate in the program.

El Paso Electric offers its Load Management program to customers who can curtail at least 100 kW per participating site during the summer (June 1 through September 30) with one-hour notice. Customers receive $50 per kW of load reduction based on the average kW curtailed (see program manual for additional payment details). Up to ten peak events per year, lasting up to five continuous hours each, may be called weekdays from 1- 7 p.m. (MDT).

Oncor's Load Management program provides remuneration directly to service contractors (e.g., ESCOs, aggregators, energy efficiency service providers, retail electric providers and utility customers) to reduce energy use in facilities during peak demand periods from June 1 through September 30, weekdays between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eligible facilities must be able to curtail at least 100 kW with a one-hour notice.

Xcel (Southwestern Public Service Company) offers several load management programs:

  • The Interruptible Credit Option (ICO) provides opportunities for significant electric bill savings to customers who have a contract interruptible load (the median of maximum demands from noon-8pm weekdays from June 1 to September 30 of the previous year) of at least 500 kW. Participants choose the amount of interruption appropriate for their facility. Remuneration in the form of a monthly credit is based on the maximum annual hours of interruption and the advance notice needed, so it ranges widely. Customers may choose either the year-round or summer version of the program.

  • The Peak Day Partners program provides bill credit or direct payment for customers who voluntarily accept an offer to reduce electricity loads during peak events, which usually occur weekdays from June 1 through September 30. Customers must be able to reduce electricity load by at least 500 kW, and accept or decline offers to commit to a minimum load reduction for individual events via a secure internet-based system.

  • The Saver's Switch for Business offers program participants an October bill discount of $20 per ton of enrolled air conditioning in exchange for customers allowing the utility to cycle the air conditioning on and off for 15- to 20-minute intervals during periods of peak electric demand in the summer.

CPS offers its Demand Response program to customers with a curtailable load of at least 50 kW per single site. Incentives are based on verified performance during peak events, which can be called with a two-hour advance notice between 1 and 7 p.m. on weekdays from June 1 to September 30 (though they typically occur between 3 and 6:30 p.m.). Customers may choose to receive incentive payments as a check or as a credit posted to their account.

AEP provides a Load Management Standard Offer program to its distribution customers with demand of at least 500 kW who are prepared to curtail electric load with one-hour notice. The program performance period is for one year, during which time customers receive one scheduled load interruption and unscheduled interruptions (up to four or twelve depending on agreement). Incentives depend on the unscheduled interruptions option chosen and are based on verified demand savings that occur as a result of an interruption. AEP offers the program in all three of its service territories: Texas Central, Texas North, and SWEPCO.

Austin Energy's Load Cooperative program offers customers incentives for curtailing unnecessary load during peak demand periods (up to fifteen three-hour intervals between 1 and 8 p.m., June through September). Customers receive a cash payment of $1.25/kWh (60-minute notification) for energy reduced during actual load curtailment periods. Load Cooperative participants have free access to the web-based Load Profiler tool, which can generate reports on daily energy usage, peak demand, and power and load factor.

Texas-New Mexico Power Company's (TNMP) 2015 Load Management Standard Offer program offers incentives of up to $40 per kW for curtailing at least 50 kW for a maximum of 18 hours total, spread over a maximum of five event days (no more than four hours on any given event day) from June 1-September 30, between 1 and 7 p.m. Payment is based on amount of load curtailed; customers are not required to curtail a specific amount and there are no penalties for non-delivery of load reduction. Applications will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on programs that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may of interest to federal customers:

  • AEP/SWEPCO's SMART Source(SM) Solar PV program offers $1.00/watt for non-residential systems with a maximum incentive of $25,000 (equivalent to a 25 kW system).
  • Austin Energy's Power Saver™ Solar Photovoltaics program currently provides a performance based incentive (PBI) of $0.09 per kWh for systems up to 200 kW (AC).
  • CPS Energy's Solar PV program offers $1.60/watt (AC) for the first 25 kW of capacity ($1.30/watt for remaining capacity output above 25 kW) for commercial projects using a local installer registered with CPS. The rebate is $1.30/watt for projects not using a local installer. Maximum incentive in both cases is $80,000. For larger systems, customers should contact CPS for details. Eligibility is determined by a pre-inspection of the site.
  • El Paso Electric's Solar PV Pilot program offers $0.75/watt (DC) for non-residential projects up to a maximum of $7,500 per project.
  • Oncor's Solar Photovoltaic (PV) program provides incentives through service providers (e.g., national or local ESCOs or other contractors). The current commercial incentive level is $538.80/kW AC and $0.3462/kWh AC based on the installed system.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by state government?

For information on state-sponsored energy efficiency programs, contact the State Energy Conservation Office at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Currently there are no state programs available to federal agencies.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide contracts through GSA (e.g., Atmos Energy (Lone Star Gas), CenterPoint Energy, CPS Energy, El Paso Electric, Entergy, American Electric Power Service Corp., and Southwestern Public Service Company) may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA's Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.