Would any of the businesses in your district elect to to participate in a rebate and incentive program that would lower their energy costs and pay for 70% of the cost of one-time improvements. Sounds like an incredible deal, right? How about if the cost savings could pay for themselves in less than a year? Anything after that is money in their pockets. You would think most companies would jump at the chance to put cash in their pocket in a fairly effortless and low-cost way. So why was the Con Edison power company in New York State struggling to get businesses to participate? Apparently cutting through the din of special offers and phone solicitations was (and remains) extremely difficult, especially when most business owners can smell a sale from a million miles away. There had to be a better way. 

 
The answer? Partner with the local Business Improvement District of course 

In New Rochelle, Con Ed found a partner in Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District. Ralph, a long-serving BID Director who had become a trusted partner and friend to local businesses. His participation was key to piercing through the clutter of sales pitches that so many of his business owners field on a daily basis. Having Ralph provide an introduction turned a cold call into something decidedly warmer. As one participant in the program said, “Given the BID’s track record of presenting downtown business with good programs I decided to go forward.” 

Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the
New Rochelle Business Improvement District
And the results speak for themselves. To date the program has resulted in nearly $100,000 in annual energy savings for participating local businesses. That is certainly not chump change. Not only that, but the ability to define the savings so tangibly helps reinforce the value of contributing to an effective Business Improvement District.


So how does the program work? 
The program created a partnership with Con Edison and NYSERDA and uses select contractors armed with rebates and incentives to encourage main street businesses to make energy efficiency upgrades.  

In an informative write-up, Dibart outlines the key elements that made the program a success: 

 

  • Start small and prove the value with respected local businesses – start by recruiting a handful of active business owners and use their results and experience as your “word of mouth” marketing.
  • Make it easy and manage the process for the business owner – usher the process through so that nothing gets complicated – from the energy evaluation, the installation, to the paperwork and follow-up.
  • Make it happen in person – A BID representative walks the energy assessment expert into each business with a personal, face-to-face introduction that makes all the difference.
Outcomes
Bryan Heaps, co-owner of Talner Jewelers in
New Rochelle, NY
Businesses are often surprised that energy savings don’t have to come at the expense of ambiance  The days of ugly energy efficient lights are over. A local jewelry shop owner who had expressed concern that the lighting would affect the feel of the store, was pleasantly surprised when he saw the options. An added bonus was that the new lights threw off less heat, resulting in less need for air conditioning…and more savings! In the case of the jewelry store, the old bulbs created so much heat that the retailer had to run the AC twelve months a year, nine hours a day. The one-time improvements alone cut monthly costs for this retailer by $500 to $1000. Yes. That is monthly. 
 
These programs and incentives are not limited to New York – so run, don’t walk to find out what your local electric company offers by way of energy efficiency incentives…and get moving to help your local businesses. This might just be one of the most tangible ways you can help their bottom line.  
 
For more information
For more profiles on participating businesses: http://www.unwasteny.org/biz/portraits
For more on the program and impact: