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SDG & E; Sets Aside $150M to Give to Businesses That Lower Energy Use

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has set aside $150 million as incentives for local businesses taking measures to reduce energy consumption.

On May 10 at the Town and Country Convention Center in Mission Valley, SDG & E; will present its second annual Energy Showcase, giving awards to the top energy-conscious companies in the county.

SDG & E; spokeswoman Rachel Laing said that many businesses taking advantage of SDG & E; incentives have prevented rolling blackouts. In particular, reductions in heating and air conditioning make a huge difference to consumption patterns.

“During peak times and the summer especially, (SDG & E;) gives companies huge discounts if they agree to go off the grid and use their own backup generators,” said Laing. “It reduces the load on the grid so that other people can use it,” preventing outages across the county.

While electricity and gas savings can add up over time, it’s difficult for many businesses to find the money to retrofit with energy-efficient equipment.

Laing said that SDG & E; can step in to help companies make retrofitting financially appealing.

“The products are more expensive but can be paid off in two years,” she said. “Between energy rebates and incentives, it gets paid off and, thereafter, you’ll always have the monthly savings.”

One program SDG & E; offers is zero percent financing for five years for equipment purchases.

This year’s award-winners are: San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, sharing the large-business champion award; midsize champion Sweetwater Union High School District; San Marcos-based Teamwork Athletic for the small-business champion award; housing development Ranch House at Del Sur for the sustainable communities award; and American Lighting Supply for energy services champion.

Jim Johnston, Teamwork Athletic general service manager, said the award is a nice bonus.

“We’re kind of proud of ourselves,” said Johnston. “It’s kind of neat to be recognized for doing the right thing.”

Teamwork manufactures and designs uniforms for team sports in facilities spanning 90,000 square feet in San Marcos. Johnston estimates that his company has saved 5 percent on energy costs despite expanding into a new building.

“We took part in (SDG & E;’s) small-business rebate program for retrofitting old lights with newer fluorescent bulbs,” which are more energy efficient, rely more on natural sunlight and produce more light in general, he said.

Teamwork was unaware of SDG & E;’s savings programs until fellow award-winner American Lighting, which helps businesses with energy-efficient retrofitting, told him about the program.

“Once I learned about the rebates, I applied that to our (expansion), but it wasn’t anything I was really looking at before,” he said. “I think it’s something every business should look at kudos to American Lighting for educating us.”

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