December 9, 2016

CPS Energy Commercial Rebates for Building Optimization


San Antonio’s municipally owned utility, CPS Energy, is offering a variety of energy-related rebates in order to support their Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP). In the past, these rebates have been administered by CPS Energy directly, but as of September 1, 2016, they are administered entirely by CLEAResult through a contract with CPS Energy.

In an earlier article, we reported on commercial energy efficiency rebates. In this article, we shall report on commercial whole building optimization rebates. In contrast to the former, the latter are being newly introduced through CLEAResult.

Rebate Structure

The whole building optimization rebate offering is designed to address typical issues that develop over the life of a building, such as controls misadjustments, component failures and building usage changes, with the simultaneous goals of reducing energy consumption and extending equipment life. The necessary work will be performed by program-approved Service Providers, registered and trained by CLEAResult. Two types of building optimization will be distinguished, depending on building complexity, floor space, and peak demand.

An Express Building Tune-Up (EBTU) is available for buildings with floor space greater than 25,000 ft2 and less than 150,000 ft2 and peak demand less than 150 kW. Such buildings include, but are not limited to, educational facilities, small offices, banks, grocery stores, retail stores and lodging facilities. The type of work includes, but is not necessarily limited to, schedule adjustments, HVAC equipment tune-ups (for chillers, boilers, air conditioners and heat pumps), damper adjustments and duct leakage elimination. This work is performed in a “find and fix” manner, enabling a project duration of less than 4 weeks and at least 5% energy savings for systems covered by the effort.

A program-approved Technical Service Provider (TSP) will qualify and screen the building for opportunities, conduct a building survey, and implement the necessary measures. The expected cash layout by the customer is anticipated to be minimal, enabling a payback period of less than two (2) years.

A full Retro-Commissioning (RCx) is available for buildings with Building Automation Systems (BAS), centralized cooling plants, floor space greater than 150,000 ft2, and peak demand greater than 150 kW. Such buildings include, but are not limited to, large offices, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities. The type of work includes, but is not necessarily limited to, chiller operations optimization, simultaneous heating and cooling elimination, air-side economizer repairs, optimal start/stop establishment for air handling units, replacement or repair of sensors, pressure and temperature reset programming as well as damper and air terminal repairs. This work is performed in an “analyze and implement” fashion, resulting in a project duration of 8 to 12 months and at least 10% to 15% energy savings for systems covered by the effort, with an expected payback of 2 years or less.

A program-approved Retrocommissioning Service Provider (RSP) will qualify the building, conduct an investigation, and implement the necessary measures. After a brief measurement and verification period, the customer will receive the rebate(s) covering up to 100% of project cost. Note that CLEAResult will cover the cost of the investigation, but the customer must commit at least $15,000 to implement the recommended measures. The RSP will furnish a reasonably accurate cost-benefit analysis prior to commencement of work.

Rebate Payments

For both types of building optimization, CLEAResult is responsible for review of the work and issuance of rebate payments. Rebates are paid at $200/kW and $0.05/kWh per peak demand and energy usage reduced as a result of the effort, up to 100% of the project cost. For EBTU, peak demand and energy savings are determined by a spreadsheet workbook developed by CLEAResult and the rebates are issued to the TSP. For RCx, peak demand and energy savings are determined by the RSP, reviewed by CLEAResult, backed by measurement and verification data and the rebates are issued to the customer. Either type will only admit buildings in reasonable operating condition – specifically, buildings requiring major repairs cannot be allowed into the program. The whole building optimization program is not intended to incentivize capital upgrades, though incentives for such improvements may be available through the Commercial Solutions program.


It is envisioned that the 2016/2017 program year will be a start-up year dedicated largely to establishing processes and identifying opportunities, and the 2017/2018 program year, beginning June 1, 2017, will be the first year in full operation. No RCx projects are planned for program year 1 and the focus will be to build up a pipeline for program year 2.

CLEAResult’s Role

CLEAResult was awarded the contract to implement the CPS Energy commercial building optimization rebate program and will offer assistance to help ensure that all eligible projects are properly submitted and issued rebates if and when program requirements are met.

For more information about available incentives and non-financial benefits please visit the CPS Energy Commercial Energy Efficiency website:

By Matt Koch, PhD, PE, Director of Building Analytics