Massachusetts electric rate increases compel local businesses to seek energy saving options.

By Dinesh Wadhwani of ThinkLite

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In the fall, two major Massachusetts electric utilities announced major rate increases for 2015; 37% for National Grid Customers and 29% for Nstar (now Eversource) customers.  These increases, announced when many businesses had already completed their 2015 budgeting, imposed tremendous strain, often squeezing already thin margins.

Cost saving alternatives like substituting with solar energy often require a twenty-year commitment in order to secure lower pricing per kilowatt hour (kWh) and lower monthly bills.  Switching to energy resellers may reduce a few percentage points, and also requires a rate lock, typically for five years, which means if prices do come down, the business will continue to pay higher rates.

In contrast, many businesses are moving to energy efficient lighting retrofits.  Lighting retrofits, in comparison to other options can be done quickly, impose no impact on the physical plant, cut energy consumption immediately by 50-60% and provides a project payback in as little as two years.  There may be no better way to address the massive Massachusetts electric rate increases. 

To determine if a lighting retrofit is right for your company, businesses like ThinkLite provides a comprehensive business lighting audit at no cost or obligation.  When a company decides to proceed, there is little to no heavy lifting as the lighting contractor likely develops and presents a plan to the utility to secure the highest incentive possible for the project. 

Often, the most dramatic retrofit is to replace existing fluorescent T5 54W HO fluorescent lamps with high lumen output 26W T5 LED Tubes (also eliminating the ballast) reducing the wattage consumption by over 50%.  Numerous companies are lit completely by T5 fluorescents, often with hundreds of tubes.  By simply swapping out fluorescent for LED, consumption and cost is cut in half.  What’s more, a traditional 3 or 4 lamp fluorescent fixture can be reduced to only 2 of these LED tubes using a delamping kit, producing similar levels and distribution of light, but saving 75% in electric consumption and cost.

“These rate increases are impacting companies at a time when many are actually seeing business rebound, post-recession,” said Danny Wadhwani, ThinkLite CFO-COO.  “All businesses will feel the 30% increase in their electricity bills eroding overall margins and profitability to some extent, especially those that operate longer hours. A proper lighting retrofit actually offsets this increase, while providing better lighting in any business environment.”

Traditionally, the move to energy efficient lighting for any size business is a costly undertaking and offers a rather long return on investment, often 5-6 years.  But much of the overall cost of a switch to energy efficient lighting is the replacement of the lighting fixtures themselves.  The retrofit solution is the way to go when companies want to react quickly and decisively, with a far quicker return on investment.

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