With electric bills set to sky rocket in 2011—that’s when PECO’s rate caps will be removed and the cost of electricity will be deregulated—there’s no time like the present to take the steps that will reduce energy consumption by the time costs rise.
That reality holds especially true for small businesses.
Saying that one will reduce their business’s energy consumption and accomplishing it, however, aren’t necessarily synonymous.
But for the University City District’s (UCD) Commercial Corridor Manager, Joe McNulty, the solution is simple: "Go Green to Save Green." McNulty’s comment refers to the $27 million allotted by the federal government to help small businesses.
Of the several uses for that funding is the Green Works Small Business Energy Efficiency Rebate, managed by Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, which has earmarked $500,000 for small businesses that make improvements to their buildings for the purpose of energy reduction.
If businesses reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent, explained McNulty, then the city will issue them a 50 percent rebate for repairs of up to $10,000. Before receiving that rebate, however, small businesses will first have to pay for the repairs necessary to achieve energy consumption reduction. According to McNulty, those same businesses will also have to be audited to make sure their energy consumption has been reduced by 20%. But the city will be conducting the audit either at a discounted rate or for free. "This will be an incentive," said McNulty, "since the cost of an audit is typically a hurdle for small businesses."
Some of the methods small businesses can employ to reduce energy costs include upgrading old equipment, such as water heaters that may have been around since the 1960’s; making changes to lighting; and making improvements to a building’s façade, like insulation and caulking.
"This might be a struggle for some businesses because they have to pay for the costs out of pocket," McNulty said, adding, "But in the long run it will be worth it."
McNulty urges business owners to act as soon as possible because $500,000 won’t cover as much ground as one would think.
Since the money is for businesses city wide, McNulty explained, "It can go very quickly … there’s only enough funds for fifty businesses [if they receive the maximum rebate] to participate."
In addition, there is also a loan component to this program for $9 million, said McNulty, "But those funds are more directed towards larger businesses for upgrades."
In speaking to the rebate associated with reducing energy consumption, McNulty praises its environmental benefits—though even beyond that, McNulty holds it up for its economic advantages.
"The more businesses save money, the longer they can stay in business," he explained, adding, "This also ties into social sustainability—the neighborhoods are healthy when the business corridors are healthy."
And according to McNulty, the UCD is "hoping that businesses in University City take advantage of this because we want to make this one of the most sustainable areas in the city."