The Most Confusing Incentives IMHO #1

When I was five years old, I watched Kristi Yamaguchi score 5.8s and 5.9s in figure skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics. I knew 0 was the worst and 6 was the best, so she was practically perfect, and then she won gold. Easy! Then at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Kim Yuna won gold and set a world record with a total segment score of 78.5. Was Kim Yuna, like, 13 times better at skating than Kristi Yamaguchi? Of course not. Kristi and Kim are both skating goddesses, the scoring system had just changed a whole lot between 1992 and 2010. And the new system can be super confusing… just like some incentives.

Right now there are three ComEd incentives that confused me almost as much as the new ISU Judging System the first time I saw them: the EMS Upgrade incentive, the Comprehensive Energy Savings incentive, and the Packaged Rooftop Unit Advanced Controls Retrofit incentive. To make this a blog rather than a dissertation, each incentive will have its own post. Hopefully they’ll help you feel like you’re back in the old 6.0 system. First to skate will be the EMS Upgrade.

Building Energy Management System (EMS) Upgrade Incentive

What does this incentivize?
At its core, this incentive encourages adding increased HVAC control per square foot of your building.

What doesn’t this incentivize?
It doesn’t incentivize the simple act of installing a new EMS or building automation system (BAS). You can only receive incentive funding for making your new automation system control your building better than the old one did. If all you did was install a new automation system and didn’t use it to add enhanced HVAC controls, you’d have a really expensive digital paperweight and couldn’t receive any incentive money for it.

What HVAC control measures can I implement?
As long as you can prove that a control strategy in your new BAS saves energy in your building, it can count toward an incentive. ComEd does have some common strategies listed in the incentive worksheet for you to choose from.

Eligible Enhanced Control Strategies

So why is this incentive complicated?
This one is hard for me to understand because it takes a two-tiered funding approach in four different categories, so you have an 88% chance of potentially choosing the wrong incentive amount when you apply. Here’s a flow chart that shows you how much money per square foot you could receive for adding controls with a new EMS:

What’s the bottom line?
You can get between $0.15 and $0.35 per square foot of conditioned space depending what your existing system is and how many control strategies you implement. The worse your existing system is and the more control strategies you implement, the more money you’ll get.

Who would this incentive be if it were a figure skater?


James Brown. Hard work and maximum improvement are rewarded the most. They’re also both from Illinois—Jason grew up in Highland Park.



Where does the worksheet for this incentive live?
Click here!

Coming up next time — Comprehensive Energy Savings incentive!