Bonus Incentives Convinces Food Pantry to Invest in Energy Efficiency

Bonus Incentives Convinces Food Pantry to Invest in Energy Efficiency

Rhinelander, WI

Rhinelander, WI – An organization with the mission to provide for the daily needs of its community found a helping hand of its own through the FOCUS ON ENERGY® Community Small Business Offering (CSBO) and will now see big savings on its energy bills.

The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry (RAFP) started providing food for area families in 2005, and it has grown to the point where it served 500,000 pounds of food to more than 900 households in 2017. The RAFP relies heavily on donations and volunteer manpower, so it is cautious when considering costly projects. But the bonus financial incentives offered through the CSBO made energy efficiency a priority.

The food pantry was familiar with Focus on Energy, having taken advantage of the program’s financial incentives in 2014 when it moved into its current building and invested in some fluorescent light tubes. They liked the improved lighting quality but by 2018, they found they were replacing the flourecscent bulbs and ballasts on a regular basis.

Around the same time, the food pantry’s utility, WPS, announced it was partnering with Focus on Energy to bring the CSBO to Rhinelander small businesses. Through the offering, the RAFP qualified for a free energy assessment and a 50% bonus on all financial incentives for projects completed before the end of the year.

An Energy Advisor with Focus on Energy met with RAFP Executive Director Guy Hanson to walk through the facility and identify energy saving opportunities. Guy says the food pantry started looking for high-efficiency LED lighting products and considered installing the upgraded lights themselves, but they also reached out to get a quote from Nate Carr at Wireline Inc, a Focus on Energy Trade Ally contractor.

“We were impressed with Nate’s quote,” Hanson says. “He quoted the project life as 22,000 hours versus the 6,000 for the products we were looking at buying through Home Depot. The quality of the products that qualified for the Focus (on Energy) incentives was far greater than others that didn’t.”

The RAFP went with Nate’s quote and installed 190 LEDs, which will save the food pantry an estimated $791 a year on is energy bills. The lighting project also earned the organization a total financial incentive of $1,215 from Focus on Energy, which is $405 more than it would have been without the CSBO bonus incentives.

WPS is one of the 107 utilities that fund the Focus on Energy program. Ratepayers served by those utilities are eligible for the energy expertise and financial incentives Focus on Energy offers to businesses, homeowners, farms, schools and local governments. The most recent independent evaluation found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy programs creates $5.93 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs, and reduced pollution.

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit

About Rhinelander Area Food Pantry
Opened in 2005, the RAFP is a non-denominational, tax-exempt, non-profit organization. For nine years the food pantry was located within the Nativity of Our Lord Thrift Shop at 436 N. Brown St. In 2014, the non-profit were purchased, modified and moved into the former Golden Harvest Market at 627 Coon St. The RAFP relies almost exclusively on volunteers, with the pantry manager being the only, part-time employee. Last year, more than 400 volunteers donated time and energy toward the success of the pantry.

RAFP Photo

Rhinelander, WI
WPS (Wisconsin Public Service)

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