Rebates seek to boost conservation
Burbank Water and Power will cover portion of purchases that reduce water and power consumption.
A portion of Burbank residents’ costs for purchasing pool covers, upgrading to more efficient appliances and other conservation measures will be covered under a new Burbank Water and Power rebate approved by the City Council.
Pool covers, sometimes called solar blankets, reduce water evaporation and are mandated under stage three of the city’s water conservation ordinance, which took effect June 1. Some council members had asked the utility last month to look into creating an incentive to encourage compliance with the requirement.
As part of a package of modifications to the utility’s energy- and water- efficiency programs, council members approved a rebate of up to $ 50 for the covers, which can run from $ 15 to hundreds of dollars, according to home improvement and pool supply websites. Other changes will increase rebates for residents and businesses that opt for upgrades to efficient appliances and there are plans for new incentives for businesses to switch to more energy- efficient air conditioning units.
For the city’s 2014- 15 fiscal year, which ends this month, the utility’s energy- and water- efficiency programs are expected to reduce peak power demand roughly 3 megawatts and drinking water consumption more than 60 million gallons, according to a staff report.
Overall, energy use decreased by 11.7 million kilowatt- hours — 2% shy of a 12million- kilowatt- per- hour goal.
The changes adopted last week are expected to further enhance those savings, and council members requested periodic reports on the effects of the programs.
One change allows businesses that took part in the Business Bucks program to get a second chance to make energy- saving retrofits, up to $ 5,000 of which the utility will pay for, depending on the participant’s annual energy use.
More than 4,000 upgrades have been completed at nearly 90% of the city’s businesses since the program started in 2003, said Jeanette Meyer, marketing manager for the utility. However, she said some early participants had a lower incentive amount and may have “left some measure on the table” that could be implemented on a second pass.
The utility will also double rebates to residents who purchase eligible clothes washers, dishwashers and pool pumps, while increasing rebates for air conditioning units by $ 20 per ton of capacity.
Switching to water- efficient washing machines could help the city save wa- ter during the drought, Meyer said, and because pool pumps and air conditioning units are the biggest energy hogs, she said, more efficient models would help reduce peak energy demand.
That could help “f latten out the duck,” said Councilwoman Emily Gabel- Luddy, referring to a chart that illustrates energy demand over the course of the day, which some officials have dubbed the “duck curve.” The graph is shaped like a duck’s belly during the daylight hours, when demand is low and solar is abundant, but like a duck’s neck when demand rises sharply in the late afternoon.
The utility will also start an incentive program to encourage installation of more energy- efficient air conditioning units in commercial properties by providing rebates to distributors that stock and sell them to Burbank businesses. Meyer said businesses tend to run air conditioning year- round, unlike many residents, meaning the potential for energy savings is high.
These “upstream” incentives at other utilities in the state have been more effective than rebates provided directly to consumers, Meyer said. The utility believes consumers “downstream” benefit through better prices as a result, she said, but they will also benefit from reduced electric bills.
Councilman Jess Talamantes agreed.
“We hope [ in] the trickledown effect,” he said.