Energy Incentive Programs, Connecticut

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Updated August 2015

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

Connecticut's electricity restructuring law provides annual funding for energy efficiency through a non-bypassable surcharge.  More than $200 million was available in 2014 across all program types (including low-income and residential).  These public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are overseen by Energize Connecticut, a consortium among the state government, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, and  the state’s investor-owned electric and gas utilities.  Programs are administered by the utilities, Eversource, United Illuminating, Connecticut Natural Gas, and Southern Connecticut Gas.  All four offer the following programs:

  • The Energy Conscious Blueprint program offers technical support and pays up to 95% of the incremental cost of energy-efficient equipment and/or energy-saving designs in commercial new construction and major renovation projects. 

  • The Energy Opportunities  program offers technical assistance and zero- or low-interest financing and/or cash incentives of up to 40% of total installed cost for replacement of functioning electric- and gas-operated equipment with energy-efficient upgrades. 

  • The Operations and Maintenance  program includes a utility-provided energy analysis of electricity-using systems to identify opportunities for operations and maintenance improvements.  Any identified upgrades may be eligible for rebates on their installed cost. Training and other outreach may be provided as well. 

In addition to these programs that are offered by all four utilities, Eversource and UI offer several others:

  • The Small Business Energy Advantage Program  is available to customers with average peak demand between 10 and 200 kW.  Qualifying customers receive a free energy assessment to identify energy-saving measures, and may be eligible for financial offsets for up to 50% of installation costs, as well as zero-percent on-bill financing to cover the remaining costs. Rebates on efficient natural gas-burning equipment are included also, but only for firm gas customers of the Connecticut gas utilities (Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Eversource).

  • The Cool Choice program provides rebates for high-efficiency HVAC equipment, including unitary and split system HVAC, air-to-air heat pump systems, water-source heat pumps, and dual enthalpy economizer controls. 

  • The Express Service and Instant Lighting Rebate program provides cash incentives for new efficient lighting in existing buildings. 

  • Retro-commissioning  services are offered that include a scoping study, recommendations for energy saving strategies, building operating training, and incentive payments when the qualifying saving strategies have been implemented. 

Additionally, UI provides low-interest loans for small and large businesses. 

The three gas utilities (Southern CT Gas, Connecticut Natural Gas, and Eversource) offer the  Connecticut Commercial Kitchen Equipment Rebate program in conjunction with  UI and Eversource’s electricity division (which cover the electric kitchen equipment, with rebates for ENERGY STAR models).  Pre-approval is required for total rebates exceeding $5,000. 

Groton Utilities offers prescriptive energy efficiency programs for its commercial and industrial customers; check its website for descriptions. 

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Please see the previous section.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

The Independent System Operator New England Inc. (ISO-NE) offers its Demand Resources programs, which provide payments to electricity users for load reductions (of as little as 100 kW), either by reducing usage or operating on-site generation during periods of high demand.  Customers may participate in the program through any participating member (“Market Participant”) of the New England Power Pool, such as a utility company, power marketer, competitive energy supplier, or independent curtailment service provider (CSP).  The Market Participant is allowed to aggregate load to reach the quantity qualification limit, so customers interested in these programs with less than 100 kW to offer may want to contact their utility or other eligible party. 

ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market  (FCM) allows customers to bid their load reduction capabilities – whether constant (such as an indoor lighting retrofit project), seasonal (such as a new energy-efficient chiller plant), or dispatchable (such as a back-up generator or demand management actions) – into a forward capacity auction that permits demand-side resources to compete with supply-side ones.  Bids that are accepted are paid the auction clearing price.  These auctions take place annually for commitment periods three years in the future (though the qualification process begins roughly a year in advance). Interested facilities should contact a market participant regarding the auction schedule; in addition, market participants may have unfilled capacity commitments ahead of the next auction.

Market participation includes both active (conventional demand response, including real-time emergency generation) and passive (energy efficiency and distributed generation, including renewables) options. Active DR opportunities include:

  • Real-Time Demand Response, which provides an opportunity for customers to receive payments for responding to system emergencies.  Participants are paid a capacity payment (through the FCM) and for actual load reductions based on the real-time locational marginal price.  Customers must respond within 30 minutes and must be able to receive dispatch instructions through a market participant or their agent (“demand-designated entity”). Participating customers must also have interval metering installed at their facility.

  • Price-Responsive Demand, a real-time demand response option that allows participants to offer reductions into the day-ahead energy market.  These customers are paid for cleared reductions in the market and are expected to interrupt in real time (according to their offers).

  • Real-Time Emergency Generation, which is for generators whose federal, state, and local permitting limits operation to actual or imminent loss of external power.  Calls to participate are restricted to times when ISO-NE has instituted manual 5% voltage reductions. Real-Time Emergency Generation resources must be capable of curtailing end-use electric consumption from the New England grid within 30 minutes of receiving a dispatch instruction, and maintaining that curtailment until notified.  For an emergency generator that does not operate in parallel with the grid, the participating customer must have an interval meter installed on the generator (or entire facility). Otherwise, interval metering of both are required.

In addition to the ISO-NE programs, Groton Utilities offers voluntary demand response program to its commercial customers.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) website provides information on programs that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may of interest to federal customers: 

  • The Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control sponsors Capital Grants for Customer-Side Distributed Generation, providing low-interest (prime rate or lower) financing for baseload renewable or combined heat and power installations of up to 65 MW.  

  • As part of a legislative revision to Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standard, the state created two classes of renewable energy credits (RECs), namely ZRECs (for RECs associated with near-zero emissions, like solar and wind installations) and LRECs (for RECs) associated with low emissions, such as biomass and landfill gas.  The two investor-owned utilities, CL&P  and UI, will periodically issue RFPs to try to obtain sufficient ZRECs and LRECs to meet their obligations.  Bidders will offer a price not to exceed $350/MWh for ZRECs and $200/MWh for LRECs for the 15-yr. output of their 100 kW to 2 MW systems.

  • The Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), working through Energize Connecticut, is periodically offering its Combined Heat and Power  pilot program of grants, loans, or power purchase incentives to try to stimulate cogeneration installations of up to 5 MW in the state. Check the website for current status.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund  works through Energize Connecticut in cooperation with the state’s investor-owned utilities to offer rebates, low interest loans and technical assistance on energy efficiency projects (see the first section above for details). 

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.