Making rebates easier
Rebate Bus has developed software to help residents and businesses collect rebates for energy efficiency.
Joe Pater and Rebate Bus help consumers and businesses easily navigate complex utility rebates processes to make energy efficient upgrades more affordable.
Photograph by M.O.D. Media Productions
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From the pages of In Business magazine.
Rebate Bus, launched by co-founders Joe Pater and Mitch Vogel in 2017, has developed a way to make utility rebates easier to navigate. The startup connects light manufacturers and utility companies by providing the utilities with a database that identifies products that qualify for utility rebates.
After working in the energy efficiency industry for nearly a decade — first with Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp. (WECC) in Madison, and later with MaxLite, a lighting products manufacturer, Pater, 37, identified a problem in need of a solution: Collecting energy rebates from utility companies was often very complicated, and programs could change from utility to utility, or state to state.
Across North America, he explains, electric, gas, and water utilities are driven to increase the adoption of efficient products and technologies, which can translate into cost savings for them because they have to generate less electricity or distribute less gas and water.
In general, energy efficiency upgrades have been found to save up to 65 percent of operating energy costs, making them great investments over the long haul. In some cases, a utility rebate can cover as much as 50 percent of the upfront costs.
Utility incentive programs offset the costs of these efficient upgrades, but navigating through the available offers and following the submittal process can be complicated and takes time.
“Say you own a warehouse with 50 old lights in the ceiling,” Pater explains. “You know they’re inefficient and consume a lot of energy, but upgrading to a newer system with energy efficient bulbs can cost a lot of money you don’t have, despite the long-term benefits.” Rebates can help.
While he credits Wisconsin’s Focus On Energy program for its forward thinking, he says the process of obtaining rebates can still be confusing.
Also, with no standardization of utility rebate programs, a business owner with multiple locations might have to deal with four or five different utility rebate programs, which gets very complex.