Do Government and Utility Rebate Programs Help or Hurt?

I say ... they hurt.  What say you?

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 I agree - to a point - I 'll confine my comments to the effects of incentives for people to migrate

to LED lighting. While its great that the various utilities provide these from $10 - $25 per a lamp/bulb

the better situation would be that the price and availability+  quality of 2013 era LED lights would be

so compelling - so commonplace that cajoling people to buy & use them would be like

reminding people to breathe . I say quick the crutch away and make the buyers rationale be all

about their performance and value . Quality solid state lighting SHOULDN'T need training wheels

Nor should LED use be a big question - its already a buy now  or buy soon proposition anyhow !



 Or look at the impact of the 179D deduction for improvements related to increased efficiencies-

Is the certification cost discussed much - not by many of the LED lamps purveyors I see -its a

substantial part of the ROI claims the(179D) deduction but few mention the extent of work to

get the incentive of 60 cents per sq ft-- I would be happier if the dynamic of LED buying

hinged soley on the quality of the cake and not about the frosting.

While both government and utility energy programs are anti small company, incredibly wasteful, destroy competition,  raise prices in the marketplace, are fraught with savings fraud, save very little money, and are primarily designed to be pork roasts for associations, certifiers, program managers, trainers, software guys, test gadget makers, etc,

They are different in that the Federal Programs are un-funded mandates paid for by our children, and the utility program are income re-distribution programs paid for by our neighbors. Neither make any sense financially.


Anyone who believes their customer needs the full dog and pony show Audit, should also believe that the customer should pay for it, and they should not ask for charity or welfare from anyone.

You are correct, there is no question that Tax payers and Rate payers would save the most money if all of these socialist programs were eliminated.




I am not sure how acrimony helps alleviate the problem  - I favour assessing if the use of

energy - if its crazy illogical it should be fixed. Auditing/detailing where there is poor use

of resources should be framed as both a building owners problem as well as a

societal problem . I care about fixing the core problems ex, airsealing,adding insulation,

weatherizing bldgs or using LED lighting instead of out dated CFLs or incandescents


 The problem with your disparaging things that benifit groups of people ( SOCIETY ) to which

we all belong - unnecessarily creates a counter productive dynamic - does your dislike of

things that benefit society extend to  hospitals , sewers and universities other institutions

that help humanity? There are certain things we pay for in a civilized world  and yes rebates

or inducements to shift to better use patterns have their place,and time-- but like w/ 25 year old

colleged aged kids it great when they move out for good-- its part of progression in life !



   Shall we leave the "Monty Burns type oligarchs " in charge of  the air

and water that were all using ? (NO) It shouldn't be a question of Capitalism vs Socialism---

It should be about logical , responsible use of resources . The rebates and incentives are not

evil , its just like I alluded to - it will be better for all when incentives are NOT needed


Wasting resources, fraudulent savings claims, governments and do-gooders picking the winners, and Needles 3 Ring Circus Act Audits are of no “benefit to Society” or anyone else, but if they are, they should pay for them, not me. Why should I pay for your air sealing?


Rebate type programs have been around since Carter, so when does the

Industry grow up and move out? I guess the waste, fraud, and shaking down tax payers and rate payers that you find logical is the source of my acrimony.


Why are you afraid of a free market? And why not call charity, welfare

and socialism what they are?    

All a tax credit does is give the federal government a vehicle to nudge a consumer in the direction it thinks it should follow. I would highly prefer the government get out of our lives and let the consumer make his/her own choices with their own free will. That is a true free market.

If LEDs, air sealing, insulation, etc. are valuable to the market then the consumer will act accordingly and buy these services. I happen to think there is great value in doing these things, but I certainly do not need a government bureaucrat, who has no experience in the field, making those decisions for me or my prospective customer.

And yes, regardless of whether you want to classify it as socialism, it is. Any time money is taken from one to give to another by force, it is socialism, or some form of it.

John, I'm a contractor and I too believe in operating in a free market (no subsidies). But, let's call socialism what it is (as you have), but let's also apply it across the board. right?

So, is not subsidy to oil, gas and nuclear socialism, because I sure as Hell don't want to pay for it. You feel me?

I just think we are fighting against the wrong people. These HP guys and gals are nothing but good for our economy (on average).

Patrick, I do not believe in ANY subsidy, regardless of economic sector. As Linda said, it is not within the federal government's constitutional power to pick what it deems to be winners and losers. Funny how, it usually picks nothing but losers.


Linda, the utility programs have nothing to do with income re-distribution. You can make the argument for federal, state and local programs, but not utility.

Utility programs, if designed properly, evaluate investments in energy efficiency based on costs of one energy option over another. Many times it comes down to adding capacity (i.e. power plants) versus reducing load.

I suggest you look into the numbers of utility energy efficiency programs, especially in Austin, TX and Massachusetts. Then look into some of the costs of adding new capacity. You may find yourself quite surprised.

Our utility is investing millions in smartmeters and peak load reduction price plans. PEAK load is what costs utilities money.

Patrick ... Consider, if you will, your "defense" of utility companies as they overcharge their customers and set aside the funds that they acquire to pay those who make purchases of items that use more of their energy resource.  Isn't the customer who is paid $50 by the gas company to replace his electric water heater with a gas water heater paid from money that came from an electric company customer?  Is this not a form of re-distribution that does little for saving energy but goes a long way in helping the utility increase profit?

James, in at least a few cases, you are correct that utilities pay you to pay themselves, but there are progressive utilities that have reduced, and continue to reduce base load and peak load through rebate programs (that make economic sense).

In the D.C. Metro region, there is a real need to update the grid and add generation on a wholesale level. This will cost ratepayers dearly. The work my company does is completely un-subsidized, and we can quantify our load reductions on a house-by-house basis. Our clients have moved to tighten up their houses, beef up insulation, upgrade to high-efficiency HVAC, switch to LEDs, etc.

I can only defend that which I have researched and have seen the results of, and therefore I will defend the need to reduce load and stave off large-scale improvements to the grid and addition of generation capacity. I have clients who just cannot afford to pay more for energy, and I will do all in my power to keep their utility costs as low as their budgets can afford. But, when folks poo-poo the efficiency stuff and continue to consume energy like it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, I cannot help but feel that some regulation of such end-users is required. 

Just my take on it.


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