MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Supermarkets in the United States can now get expert help in securing energy-efficiency rebates from utilities. The service is for supermarkets that invest in initiatives to improve energy efficiency but may not collect all the utility rebates for which they qualify, said Abtar Singh, chief executive of Singh360. “Some supermarkets want help because the application process can take a lot of time and effort,” Singh said. “Supermarkets may be leaving a lot of money on the table.”

Utilities generally offer two categories of rebates — prescriptive and custom. “Prescriptive rebates are usually easy to apply for and easy to get,” said Singh. “Utilities may offer them for simple, straightforward projects such as changing light bulbs or installing VFD or EC motors. The math is simple. The rebate is based on reductions of horsepower or wattage. You multiply the reduction by the number of changes you’ve made.

“Custom rebates are for projects whose savings don’t fit in such a neat box,” Singh said. “Projects involving refrigeration are good examples.”

Because custom rebates require more work than prescriptive rebates, supermarkets often don’t bother applying. “To win a custom rebate, a supermarket may have to provide measurements and data to verify the initiative saved energy,” Singh said. Some utilities may also require the applicant to provide modeling and calculations.

Companies can earn rebates for retro-commissioning and for retrofits of control systems. They may also get rebates for such measures as adding new energy-efficient condensers on refrigeration systems or putting energy-efficient doors on refrigerated display cases.

Xcel Energy (, a utility that serves customers in eight states, is one that provides incentives for its customers. “Recommissioning can be a good way for supermarkets to save energy,” said Tom Santori, Xcel Energy recommissioning program manager in Minnesota. “As an incentive for supermarkets to take action, we offer rebates to subsidize the cost of identifying and implementing energy-saving HVAC and refrigeration projects,” he said. Xcel offers recommissioning rebates in Colorado, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

Wally Lindeman, senior manager, facilities maintenance at Lunds Food Holdings Inc., said he hired Singh360 to help when the Minnesota company didn’t have time and resources to do all the paperwork. They were challenged to estimate savings based on model calculations, he said. “With help from Singh360, we secured more than $300,000 of incentive so far,” Lindeman said.

Charles Culver, director of energy and sustainable development at ShopRite Supermarkets, has a similar story. Singh360 helped Culver get rebates for adding refrigeration doors and retrofitting condensers for two stores in New York, he said. “Singh360 worked with our local utility and coordinated the flow of information with minimal involvement from us.”

Grocery retailers in New York, Wisconsin, and Southern California have also hired Singh360 to process both prescriptive and custom rebates, Singh said. “We help companies capture all the ideas that legitimately qualify for rebates. We do the modeling and paperwork. Then we present the application with credible background information to win all the rebates for which a supermarket qualifies.”

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Publication date: 8/25/2014

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