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Making Lighting Retrofits Work
Lighting retrofits should be an easy sell, but one element that makes them an immediate return on investment ends this year.

Gate Riverplace Tower
Gate Riverplace Tower went through a successful lighting retrofit.

Business for electrical contractors has been slower because of the down construction market. But there are solutions that will create more business today and in the future. One potential moneymaker is to encourage your customers to enact a lighting retrofit program. In August, Chris Curtis, president and CEO, Schneider Electric North American Operating Div., noted that 70 percent of all buildings in the U.S. need a lighting retrofit.

While any lighting retrofit will prove to be a money saver for your customers, one element that makes a lighting retrofit an immediate money saver ends in just a couple of months. The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) rebate, which was created by the government to help subsidize energy efficient upgrades, is scheduled to end Dec. 31. So, time is running out for a more immediate payback on the investment. The EPAct includes a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for "green" construction and renovations.

"Rising energy costs are a chief concern among facility managers who often oversee budgetary issues in addition to overall operations. The EPAct was designed to help substantially subsidize the costs of otherwise expensive changes," said, Mike Wissman, president, Northern Kentucky Electric Service. "We highly encourage area facilities to proactively invest in energy efficient upgrades while there's still a high return on investment."

Mary Beth Gotti, manager of General Electric's Lighting and Electric Institute, concurs. "Use the tax credits available from the Energy Policy Act now!"

Building owners are looking to cut down on their energy costs, which includes enacting lighting retrofit plans. A recent NKES energy management survey among greater Cincinnati facility managers found that 95 percent of respondents said that reducing costs would be the greatest motivation for their company to become more energy efficient. Furthermore, 55 percent of respondents said they foresee their companies taking steps to become more energy efficient within the next six months.

"These tax credits can really end up saving the company a lot of money and essentially helping the environment in the process," Wissman said. "More and more businesses are seeing this as a major issue and realize the time to act is now."

Simply put, a lighting upgrade is any strategy that reduces the system's energy use. Energy savings are realized over, which can be significant enough to pay off the new equipment and produce a return on investment. With the current rebates, ROI can be accomplished in months in some cases. Most lighting retrofits provide an ROI in less than five years.

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