This month, we spent some time digging up some info on specific utilities and their incentive or rebate programs for improving HVAC efficiency through better motors and drives. Of course, you have to read the fine print, and of course, this is only a tiny sample of what’s out there. So in short, follow the links to read the fine print. If nothing else, let this be a reminder to check with your own utilities, and to see what other equipment-related incentives may apply to your upcoming plans.



Premium motors qualify for rebates in three tiers between $10 and $25, depending on their horsepower. The motors must meet a few standard qualifiers for “premium” status and must operate a minimum of 1,500 hrs annually.

The rebate for VFDs is a flat $40 up to 250 hp, and then they are considered eligible for the utility’s “custom” program. The drives must be used with supply, return, or exhaust fans; water pumps; or cooling tower pumps. (The utility also offers rebates for qualifying outside air economizers, ERV, occupancy sensors, and window film.)



These rebates were previously capped at 50% of project cost, but that limit has been upped to 60%. The rebate for new motors used in new installations or replacing burned-out motors of up to 500 hp ranges from $25 to $2,250. If  the motor upgrade replaces an in-service motor, the rebates range from $200 up to $13,500. In either scenario, the new motor must exceed NEMA premium efficiency levels by at least one full percentage point.

For adjustable or variable drives up to 200 hp that are used in fan or pump applications, rebates range from $200 to $8,000.  Custom motor or drive applications involving larger equipment are calculated on an individual basis, but they must be pre-approved prior to purchase to qualify.

The above rebates apply for qualified customers in Minnesota and Colorado. For Colorado customers, Xcel also offers four categories of rebates for EC motors used in various refrigeration applications.



Like other utilities, the motors/drives offers are part of a larger set involving fans, pumps, cooling towers, and other equipment. VFDs warrant a rebate of $30/hp on rated control hp or motor hp, whichever is lower. Rebates are limited to half the cost of the project and also to $100,000/yr per member.

On the motor side, the utility has six tiers of rebates for replacing motors with EPAct equipment, based on motor size. Visitors can also review annual cost and savings projections for each tier, along with estimated payback timeframes. Dakota’s materials are a good reminder that often, customers must be prepared to supply adequately itemized documentation to qualify.



Customers can take advantage of $50/hp incentives (or 70% of the installed cost, whichever is less) for qualifying VFDs.

On the motor side, the utility offers incentives for three categories of motors, and the incentives are broken down into a multitude of categories between 1and 200 hp (not counting the custom program for larger motors). Overall, possible rebates range from $30 to $2,480.



A healthy $100/hp is available for VFD upgrades; all rebates must be approved prior to equipment purchase, regardless of size.

Tacoma also maintains a Green Motor Rewinds program. Motors qualify for this “if the rewind results in the motor maintaining its original efficiency level.” These rebates are $1/hp and are delivered as a credit on the rewind invoice.



The utility does include a “participating contractors” element to qualifying for its rebates, and customers can review a list of those contractors on the website. VFD rebates range from $40 to $60/hp depending on the size of the associated equipment. However, the utility also offers an “Advanced VFD Applications” category, preapproval required, which covers several VAV categories and is based on sq ft rather than hp.

Again, these are part of a much larger incentive program involving an array of mechanical equipment, complemented by a separate Whole Building incentive program.



As part of its Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, VFDs used in a wide variety of HVAC technologies are eligible for a $60/hp incentive. Motor rebates cover ODP and TEFC equipment in the common 1- to 200-hp range. Depending on size and motor type, the rebates range from $40 to $



Texans in this area may enjoy motor rebates from $15 to $620. Qualifying VFDs receive $250/direct kW. The maximum incentive is $200,000 or 50% of the total project expense. (These are part of a quite extensive overall program that extends, as some other utilities do, into lighting window treatments, and even LED signage.)



Multiple regional utilities participate in this larger offering, which comprises business incentive, larger energy users, retrocommissioning, small business, and chain stores / franchises programs.



Under the West Virginia Business Programs, VFDs for use in HVAC fans and pumps (or process pumps) may earn $40/hp back. No listed incentives regarding motors, but the utility did offer incentives for certain other types of equipment.



For medium and large commercial customers, qualifying VFDs may be eligible for an incentive of “$0.27 per kW/hr savings over the first year of the project.” The limit for these incentives is 70% of the ECM installation cost, and the contract must be signed before equipment purchase. The utility also offers a program for new construction, although no separate incentive structure was evident on the utility website.



This utility also uses the “per kWh saved” model. Its Small Commercial Solutions program offers a flat $0.125 on that basis for all upgrades. These include both motors and drives, along with other equipment including lighting, heat pump, chillers, etc.

The Large Commercial & Industrial Solutions program offers an ever-so-slightly different $0.12 per kWh saved for all non-lighting upgrades, according to the utility website.



For VFDs in the 2- to 75-hp range, fixed incentives run from $600 to $5,250. In the 100- to 200-hp range, the incentive shifts to $70/hp. As common elsewhere, larger units require a custom application.

On a side note, customers can participate in retrocommissioning and even “Enhanced O&M” programs. ES