stack of cash from a lighting rebate Most states offer lighting rebate money when you use energy-efficient light fixtures.

Strange but true: your utility company may pay you to buy less electricity from them. Among the many energy efficiency regulations that have gone into effect over the past decade, are state mandates requiring utilities to reduce energy consumption. This is due in part to environmental concerns, but it’s also because the utilities are having an increasingly difficult time meeting the growing demand for electricity, and it’s cheaper to curb that demand than to build new power plants and transmission lines. One way the utilities have complied with these mandates is to incentivize customers, through generous lighting rebate programs. This encourages customes to switch out old, energy-hungry light fixtures for newer, more efficient technology.

In other words, just for replacing those old high-pressure sodium high bays with new LED lighting, you could be eligible for a utility rebate that could significantly offset the price of those new lights. The challenge is that every utility has its own set of eligibility requirements. Each application process is slightly different and fairly complex. Also, some lighting rebate programs are only available until the funding for them runs out, so they generally operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can often find guidance through this maze from your lighting distributor or the retrofit company you hire to install the new lighting. There are also consulting firms that specialize in lighting rebate facilitation. Without this expertise, applying for rebates for an industrial lighting project can be a daunting process. There is very little uniformity from one rebate program to another. They differ in terms of the size of incentives for various types of upgrades, the procedures for calculating them, and the eligibility requirements – and all of this is subject to change at any time.


Need help securing a rebate for your lighting project? Our team of lighting-certified experts is ready to help you over the phone(1-800-983-1315), or reach out using our contact form.


Lighting Rebate Rules & Regulations

Many lighting rebate programs divide incentives into two categories, prescriptive and custom. Generally speaking, custom rebates are made available for retrofits that save energy but don’t fit under a specific measure in the prescriptive list.  A prescriptive rebate is usually a certain amount per lamp or fixture. Custom rebates are usually based on the actual energy savings (although this differs from one utility to the next).

For example, California-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) runs a custom program that awards cash payments based on actual annual KWh or therm savings achieved. “Targeted lighting,” which includes all LED lighting retrofits and comprehensive, multi-measure control systems, get $.08/kWh. Meanwhile, “basic lighting” (non-LED lights, basic controls) receive $.03/kWh.

PG&E also has a prescriptive program. For example, replacing a 750-watt pulse-start metal halide high bay with an LED high bay earns a rebate of $250 per fixture. The LED fixture must meet minimum requirements concerning lumen levels and wattage, and all fixtures or retrofit kits must be on the utility’s list of prequalified fixtures.  PG&E’s rebates for high-performance linear fluorescent fixtures range from $17.50 to $20 per fixture or kit. Their efficiency must meet or exceed 80 percent. They must use modern optical design. The lamps must be high-performance or Super T8s, and they must have a rating for 20,000 hours or more.


Complex Qualifiers

PECO is the largest utility in Pennsylvania They award some rebates at a fixed dollar amount per fixture or lamp. They calculate other rebates by energy savings. For example:

  • PECO is currently offering an incentive of $1.00 for replacing an incandescent lamp with a screw-in CFL.
  • For new T5 and T8 fluorescent fixtures with electronic ballasts, the rebate is $.30 per watt of reduction, with a cap of $200 per fixture.
  • CFL’s must be 115 watts or less -
    • Lamps less than or equal to 30 watts must have an Energy Star rating or meet Energy Star criteria.
    • Lamps greater than 30 watts must have an Energy Star rateing or have a minimum luminous efficiency of 65 lumens per watt.
  • High performance fluorescent lamps and ballasts must meet the specifications of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) to qualify.
  • Interior LED fixtures and lamps must appear on Energy Star or Design Lights Consortium qualified products list.

You can usually find this information on the product cut sheets. provides links to these on every product page if made available to us by the manufacturer.

In Colorado, XCel Energy offers the usual array of rebates as well as an additional benefit. They will help fund lighting redesign studies aimed at determining the proper lighting levels for a facility. If customers make the recommended changes, they can earn rebates of up to $400 per kW saved. The rebate is available only to Xcel Energy electricity business customers in Colorado. Furthermore, XCel must pre-approve in order for them to qualify.


Pre-Approval Required For Some Lighting Rebate Programs

Many other lighting rebate programs require pre-approval as well, especially for custom measures.  In New Jersey, for example, where all utility rebates are administered through the state Clean Energy Program, customers must submit an application. An approval letter will then be sent to the property owner. If they install or purchase equipment before the approval letter's date, it may not be eligible.

New Jersey applicants must also fill out a tax clearance form. This shows that their tax affairs are in order before the utility awards any business assistance or incentives. Another requirement for eligibility is that the applicant must receive electric or gas service from one of the regulated utilities in the state. This is because New Jersey utility customers basically fund the incentive program through a surcharge on their bills, called a “societal benefits charge.” A customer who does not pay into the lighting rebate program cannot benefit from it. In states where the utilities fund these programs internally, through their own revenues, this may not be an issue.


Deadlines: A Moving Target

Despite your efforts to assure that your retrofit qualifies for a lighting rebate, the program may expire. For example, federal regulations recently banned the import and manufacture of T12s. They will no longer be available for purchase once current inventory runs out. Therefore, some utility companies no longer feel it necessary to incentivize customers to switch them out. Eventually it will be their only choice. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. In New Jersey, incentives for T-12 to T-5 and T-8 lamps and fixtures are no longer effective as of March 1, 2013. However, this did not apply for buildings impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Another incentive soon to be discontinued is PG&E’s rebate for occupancy sensors and photo cells. After June 30, 2014, they will drop off the list of qualified retrofits due to new Title 24 regulations (California’s Building Standards Code).

Finally, be aware that rebates are only available until funding for the program runs out. This can happen at any time, without warning. So if you are considering a lighting retrofit, you might want to do this sooner rather than later. Enlist the help of a lighting professional to make sure you get all of the rebate money you deserve.

Need help securing a rebate for your lighting project? Our team of lighting-certified experts is ready to help you over the phone(1-800-983-1315), or reach out using our contact form.