Program offered to help businesses trim energy costs

HOUGHTON – Businesses looking to lower their energy bills can now make more informed investment decisions thanks to a grant awarded to the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

WUPPDR, which received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of commercial energy audits and assessments to help local businesses identify opportunities to reduce energy expenses and target resources to pay for energy waste reduction investments.

The program is a partnership between WUPPDR and Michigan Energy Options, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing communities’ access to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The program reviews both common energy conservation measures, such as lighting and building envelope improvements, as well as more advanced ECMs like smart thermostats, building control technologies and renewable energy.

In addition to receiving a report with specific energy-efficiency recommendations and cost-saving projections, participating businesses with be connected with existing resources to help finance energy efficiency investments.

“There are a number of programs out there to help businesses reduce their energy expenses, but it can be confusing and time-consuming to track them down, find the right fit and complete the necessary paperwork” said Brad Barnett, program coordinator. “At the end of the day, we want to help businesses save energy and money, so we plan to work with them to capitalize on the audit’s recommendations.”

Participating businesses can choose from two different program options: a Level I energy assessment or a Level II energy audit.

The Level I assessment offers an on-site consultation with an energy services professional to identify energy waste-reduction best practices and is geared toward small businesses looking to better understand their utility bills and opportunities for improvement.

The Level II audit is a data-intense evaluation of on-site energy consumption and analysis of fuel, electricity and water bills, plus usage for trend analysis and industry benchmarking. Return on investment and payback period calculations are also provided to help businesses evaluate trade-offs of different energy efficiency investments.

“Investing in energy waste reduction is a safe and predictable way to improve a business’s bottom line,” Barnett said. “Spending less on energy frees up capital for other forms of business investment, and the savings from some projects pay for themselves in a year or two.”

For more information about the program or to schedule an audit, go to www.wuppdr.org/energy-audits or contact Barnett at 906-482-7205, ext. 316, or bbarnett@wuppdr.org.


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