Business Solutions FAQs

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General Program Details:

  1. What is the contact information for the Business Solutions Program?
  2. SMECO Business Solutions Program
    c/o ICF
    7125 Thomas Edison Drive, Suite 100
    Columbia, MD 21406
    Phone: 866-235-6044
    Fax: 410-630-3554
    E-mail

  3. Where do the funds come from to pay for the incentives?
  4. Incentives are funded through Maryland Public Service Commission approved energy efficiency charges applied to customers’ electric bills (EmPOWER Maryland charge).

  5. How long will the program be available?
  6. The current programs are approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission through December 31, 2020.

  7. Will the programs change from year to year?
  8. The programs were designed using a best practices approach from utilities across the country. However, programs are reviewed periodically and it is possible for programmatic processes or elements, including incentives, to change from year to year.

  9. Who is ICF and why are they involved?
  10. ICF is an energy consulting company that was selected by SMECO to implement the co-op’s portfolio of energy efficiency programs. ICF has extensive experience managing similar programs throughout the country. ICF has a local office in Columbia, Maryland.

  11. Will my data be kept confidential?
  12. All customer specific information provided to SMECO will be held in confidence.

  13. Are incentives available for fuel-switching measures or renewables?
  14. Fuel-switching measures and renewable projects, such as solar water heaters or photovoltaic installations, do not qualify under this program.

Eligibility and Participation:

  1. Who can participate in the Business Solutions program?
  2. In general, all non-residential customers who receive electric service through SMECO, regardless of their electric supplier, are eligible. Additional details on eligibility can be found in the Terms and Conditions section of the Business Solutions applications.

  3. How do I sign up for the program?
  4. Applications and instructions can be found on the Business Solutions section of SMECO’s website.

  5. Are incentives available for measures that are not explicitly covered by the prescriptive measures?
  6. Electric energy-efficient equipment that is not included on the prescriptive application forms may be considered as a Custom measure. In general, this equipment must exceed the prescriptive requirements and not be required by Maryland energy code nor considered standard industry practice. The proposed project or equipment must have verifiable electric energy savings and pass the program cost effectiveness criteria.

  7. How do I determine what energy efficiency measures are right for my facility?
  8. Local Service Providers can help you identify which measures are right for your facility. Service Providers listed on the SMECO website have received program training and are familiar with the rules and requirements of the program.

  9. Am I required to use a specific contractor to participate in the program?
  10. You are not required to use a specific contractor to install energy-efficient equipment at your facility. Customers are free to select their own contractors or use in-house staff. If you choose to use in-house staff to install program measures, please leave the contractor information blank on your application form.

  11. Are engineering studies required for participation in the Business Solutions program?
  12. Engineering studies are not required for prescriptive measures; however, Custom measures do require the calculation of estimated project costs and energy usage prior to submitting the Custom application for pre-approval.

  13. Does the Business Solutions Program offer free energy audits?
  14. Energy audits are the responsibility of the customer. SMECO’s Business Solutions team can offer a review of products to ensure program requirements are met. Some Service Providers may offer free energy audits as part of their proposal.

Forms and Applications:

  1. What happens if the final project changes from what was pre-approved by SMECO?
  2. If the scope of work changes or the equipment specifications change, you must notify the Business Solutions team immediately. They will review your application to determine whether the revised project is eligible for an incentive and the amount of the incentive. If the revised potential incentive is greater than the original amount, the Business Solutions team will determine if there are funds available to increase your incentive amount. There is no guarantee that funds will be available for payment above the previously approved amount.

  3. If I submit an application and I receive a pre-approval letter, am I obligated to go through with the work?
  4. You are not obligated to go through with the work. Once the funds associated with your project are approved, you have six months to complete retrofit installations and one year to complete new construction installations. If you start a project and decide to complete only a portion of the work, you will only be paid for the completed portion. If you know that you are not going to complete a project or are only completing a portion of it, please contact the Business Solutions team so that we can redistribute funding appropriately.

  5. If equipment does not meet the prescriptive eligibility criteria, can it be submitted under the Custom track?
  6. No. If equipment that is covered by prescriptive rebates does not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the prescriptive applications, it cannot be considered for a Custom application.

  7. Does the program offer incentives for exterior lighting efficiency measures?
  8. The Business Solutions Prescriptive LED and Custom offering allows business customers to submit applications for exterior lighting projects.

  9. Do I have to select a contractor before submitting an application?
  10. You do not have to select a contractor before submitting an application as long as the equipment for the project meets the eligibility requirements. But, because of the six-month window for retrofit project completion and the one-year window for new construction completion, it is strongly recommended that customers have a contractor selected before an application is submitted. SMECO will not accept multiple applications from more than one contractor for the same customer project.

  11. Why do I need to provide my SMECO account number?
  12. The Business Solutions team must verify that you have an active SMECO account and are eligible to receive incentives.

  13. How will I know the status of my application?
  14. Both the customer and contractor will receive a pre-approval letter once the application has been reviewed and approved. Applicants who submit incomplete applications will be notified and asked to provide additional detail so the review process can be completed. Once the project has been completed, and the associated paperwork is submitted, the Business Solutions team will review all necessary material. Once payment has been approved, the customer and contractor will receive a letter indicating payment approval and amount. The party receiving the payment will typically receive the payment within four weeks after payment approval. Customers may contact the Business Solutions team at any time with additional questions about the process or status of an application.

  15. Who can submit applications?
  16. SMECO customers or their Service Provider/contractor can submit applications.

Incentives:

  1. Can I receive an incentive for used or refurbished equipment?
  2. No. Used or refurbished material is not eligible for incentives nor does SMECO allow equipment that is removed to be re-installed within the SMECO service territory.

  3. Can I receive the incentive in the form of a bill credit?
  4. Yes. Please indicate the payment method on the application form after the project is complete when the final paperwork is submitted.

    Beginning April 1, 2018, all incentive payments for Business Solutions program participants will be made electronically or via bill credit.

  5. Does the pre-approval letter guarantee payment of incentives at the full amount?
  6. The pre-approval letter guarantees payment of the incentives at the full amount as long as all conditions of the pre-approval letter have been met. Any change in equipment specifications, quantities installed, or other factors affecting energy savings and project costs may result in changes to the incentive amount. Any changes from the original pre-approval letter conditions must receive SMECO approval before being implemented to guarantee incentive payment.

  7. Can I receive incentives for projects where the equipment has already been purchased?
  8. No. Program pre-approval is required for all projects prior to the purchase or installation of equipment in order to be eligible for incentives(noted in the Terms & Conditions on the application form).

  9. If my project involves a prescriptive measure, do I have a choice whether to apply using a prescriptive or custom application?
  10. If a project involves equipment specified in a prescriptive application, that project is not eligible to be submitted as a Custom project. If a project involves both prescriptive and custom measures as an entire system, the customer may be able to combine integrated measures into a single custom application.

  11. How are Custom incentives determined?
  12. Custom incentives are based on the cost of installing the high efficiency measures and the resulting energy and demand savings. In all cases, the high efficiency measure must be cost effective. For retrofit measures where the efficiency of existing equipment or systems is being improved, the incentive is up to 50% of the installed cost of the high efficiency measure. For new construction or the purchase of new or replacement equipment, the incentive is up to 75% of the cost of the high efficiency equipment over the standard efficiency equipment. In all cases, if the incentive results in a customer simple payback of less than 1.5 years, the incentive will be reduced to an amount that will result in a 1.5 year payback.

  13. How does the program determine baselines for Custom measures?
  14. Project baselines are based on currently applicable energy codes and/or conservative estimates of industry standards.

  15. Once I receive an incentive, do I have any further obligation with the Business Solutions program?
  16. Once a project is complete and payment is made, SMECO and the Public Service Commission require that a subset of projects be visited. This is to verify that sales transactions and equipment installations remain in accordance with the plans that were approved and upon which incentives were paid. SMECO may contact you to visit your site to perform this verification. All measures must be installed and working at the time of inspection.

  17. Are incentives available for LED lighting?
  18. Yes, incentives for common LED lighting measures are available through the Business Solutions Retrofit Lighting Application. Other LED measures not included on the Application Form may be considered as Custom options.

  19. Are there any specific technical requirements associated with LED lighting?
  20. Yes, whether submitted as a Prescriptive or Custom project, all LED replacement lamps and LED luminaires must be listed on the DesignLights™ Consortium or ENERGY STAR®  Qualified Products list.

Building Tune-up Services:

  1. What is the difference between the Building Tune-up Program and the Business Solutions Program?
  2. The Business Solutions Program typically involves a capital investment in energy-efficient equipment. Building Tune-up focuses on optimizing the operation and maintenance of existing equipment.

  3. Why are there three "types" of Building Tune-up Services?
  4. Since different opportunities exist for improving building performance based on building size and typical systems, SMECO offers three options—Enhanced Unitary HVAC Maintenance, Small Building Tune-up Services and Large Building Tune-up Services—to meet varying customer needs.

  5. What incentives are available for Enhanced Unitary HVAC Maintenance Services?
  6. SMECO’s Enhanced Unitary HVAC Maintenance Services can tune up your facility’s Unitary HVAC system while ensuring its energy-consuming components function at peak efficiency.

    For a list of measures and incentives, please go here.

  7. What are the basics of the Small Building Tune-up Services?
  8. Small Building Tune-up Services are available for industrial process systems and commercial facilities less than or equal to 75,000 square feet. The process typically involves contractors assessing equipment/system conditions from a prescribed checklist of items. Small Building Tune-up Services focus on:

    • Calibrating building systems and controls
    • Replacing equipment filters
    • Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils
    • Sealing air and water leaks
    • Re-balancing air handling systems
    • Detecting compressed air leaks
    • Educating facility personnel
  9. What incentives are available for Small Building Tune-up Services?
  10. SMECO will provide incentives for up to 75% of the cost of the assessment and study with a maximum incentive of $3,000. SMECO estimates the cost of an appropriate study for Small Building Tune-up Services to be between $500 and $4,000, depending upon the complexity of the facility.

    SMECO also will pay part of the costs for demonstration measures (i.e., measures that can save a significant amount of energy, but will not pay for themselves in less than 1.5 years) with a cap on SMECO’s total project commitment of $15,000.

  11. Who can perform Small Building Tune-up services?
  12. To assist customers in performing Small Building Tune-up Services, SMECO provides the Business Solutions Program Service Providers Directory. If a customer wishes to use a Service Provider that has not been pre-approved, the Service Provider must first apply to participate in the Small Building Tune-up Services offering. SMECO does not warrant or guarantee any work or equipment installed by a Service Provider.

  13. What are the basics of Large Building Tune-up Services?
  14. Large Building Tune-up Services are available for facilities larger than 75,000 square feet and are more comprehensive than Small Building Tune-up Services. Large Building Tune-up Services are intended for customers with unusually high energy use, persistent failures of equipment and controls, tenant complaints, or indoor air quality problems. The process involves a detailed study conducted by a pre-qualified Service Provider who develops and carries out (or directs others to carry out) customized system and operational changes to reduce energy consumption. Large Building Tune-up Services typically include:

    • HVAC calibrations
    • Diagnostic and function tests of major systems and equipment
    • Air and water systems balancing
    • Calibration of energy management and control systems and lighting systems controls
    • O&M tune-ups
    • Education of facility personnel
  15. What incentives are available for Large Building Tune-up Services?

    SMECO will provide incentives up to 75% of the cost of the Large Building Tune-up study and implementation costs, up to a maximum incentive of $30,000. However, the incentive is contingent upon the customer making a commitment to invest a minimum of $30,000 in cost-effective measures (i.e., measures that will pay for themselves in 1.5 years or less).

  16. Are there minimum requirements to be a candidate for Large Building Tune-up Services?

    Yes. The facility must have a functioning direct digital control (DDC) system; accessible and up-to-date building documentation and records; no major maintenance problems requiring costly repairs or replacements; and no planned major system renovations or retrofits. The facility also must commit facility staff to be actively involved in the entire Large Building Tune-up process.

  17. Who can perform Large Building Tune-up services?

    To assist customers in performing Large Building Tune-up Services, SMECO provides the Business Solutions Program Service Providers Directory. If a customer wishes to use a Service Provider that has not been pre-approved, the Service Provider must first apply to participate in the Large Building Tune-up Services offering. SMECO does not warrant or guarantee any work or equipment installed by a Service Provider.

  18. What is the value of having a contractor assess how a building’s systems operate?

    Many customers have energy-efficient equipment but their buildings are still not operating efficiently. By participating in the Building Tune-up program, customers will maximize the operating efficiency of their buildings and reduce their energy consumption.

Service Providers:

  1. Where can I find a local Service Provider to assist me with my project?
  2. Service Providers who have submitted an application, participated in program training, and undergone reference checks are listed on the program website. SMECO does not recommend, qualify, or otherwise approve these contractors for participation. SMECO does not warrant or guarantee any work or equipment installed by a Service Provider.

    If you are a Service Provider and would like to participate in one of the training seminars, contact us by e-mail.

  3. Where can Service Providers learn more about the program?

    Information for Service Providers can be found at the Trade Ally page, including details on how to get involved in the Service Provider program and get your business listed in the Service Provider directory. Once you join, you become part of the Service Provider mailing list through which you will receive regular updates on the Business Solutions program. SMECO also offers periodic seminars on how best to use the program to help your customers.

  4. Who receives the rebate check, the customer or contractor?
  5. The customer has the option to assign payment to the contractor or other third party. SMECO requires the customer’s signature approving payment in either case.

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EmPOWER Maryland programs are funded by a charge on your energy bill. EmPOWER programs can help you reduce your energy consumption and save you money. Learn more about EmPOWER and how you can participate.

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