Program helps small businesses cut energy costs

Kenosha News


Some Kenosha County small businesses that took part in an energy-savings program the past 14 months have cut utility costs by an estimated $103,778. The program, arranged by Focus on Energy, helped 69 county customers with an energy assessment and 42 with energy-saving projects.

The program paid out $103,497 for the work, saving an estimated 943,436 kilowatt hours. Using the average statewide rate of 11 cents per kilowatt, that equals $103,778.

Local sites that took part in the program included municipalities, lawn care companies, bakeries, retail shops, restaurants, non-public schools and churches.

Less energy needed

The statewide effort, called the Small Business Program, paid for almost 9,000 energy assessments and nearly 6,000 projects across Wisconsin, officials said.

Estimates are that the work cut energy use by more than 100 million kilowatts of electricity and saved businesses $12 million in energy costs.

The program was recently cited with the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s 2013 Inspiring Efficiency Innovation Award, given for a new, innovative program, idea or policy in the Midwest.

Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities’ statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource group. The Small Business Program usually assists companies that use less than 100 kilowatts of electricity per month.

Plugging into savings

While there are no Kenosha County contractors that do the work, there are several in Racine County, officials said.

A press release from the Alliance noted a statewide network of almost 150 specially trained contactors who conduct energy use assessments, note problems and fix them, all at no cost to the customer.

The work could include installing energy-efficient products such as new light-emitting diode lamps, compact fluorescent light bulbs, pipe wrap and faucet aerators.

There is an option for additional energy work for a cost, although it could be reduced by incentives of up to $3,500.

Small businesses are important to target because they typically have outdated and inefficient equipment, such as light fixtures and furnaces, said Focus on Energy Small Business program manager Nathan Baer in the press release.

Making updates easy and reducing customers’ costs helped in creating the energy savings, he said.

Generating business

The work also did a part in spurring the local economy, said MEEA Executive Director Doug Newman.

“The program created new economic opportunities while helping small businesses invest in more important things, like products and payroll,” he said in the release.

Types of assistance

Focus on Energy helps resident homeowners, renters and businesses install energy-efficient and renewable-energy projects to save on use and utility bills.

The program, which offers financial assistance, aims for economic development, reducing energy companies’ effect on the environment and cutting demand for electricity and natural gas, an FOE press release said.

Some offers include:

— Discounts on compact fluorescent light bulbs for residential lighting at more than 1,000 Wisconsin retailers.

— Rebates for buying high-efficiency equipment for homes.

— Free installation of energy-saving products.

— Up to $2,000 savings for air-sealing and insulation improvements.

— Use of Focus on Energy Builders and up to $1,100 savings on energy-efficient construction.

— $40 and free pickup to recycle an old, working refrigerator or freezer.

— Rebates for geothermal heat pumps and solar electric systems.

More details are available by calling 800-762-7077 or online at

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