Portland council set to approve rebate program for commercial efficiency upgrades

Portland is launching a rebate program to help businesses pay for energy efficiency upgrades.

Portland is launching a rebate program to help businesses pay for energy efficiency upgrades. 

Portland City Council is expected to vote next week to approve a rebate offering — called Bucks for Buildings — designed to help small businesses make energy efficiency improvements.

Starting this week, building owners can apply to be considered for the limited-time rebate that can offset the cost of making energy-efficiency improvements to commercial buildings by as much as 75 percent.

Building owners need to reserve their rebates by May 1 and all the efficiency upgrade work must be completed by Sept. 30. The rebates will be funded by a Federal grant through the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood program. The council's final approval is a mere formality.

A total fund of $300,000 is available for the program and rebates will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. A maximum of $30,000 will be available per project.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is a fan of the rebate plan.

“Small businesses make up 92 percent of the businesses in Portland,” Hales said in a statement. “Bucks for Buildings will help us build stronger, more resilient neighborhood businesses by lowering their operating costs.”

Rebates will cover up to 50 percent of eligible efficiency improvements made to Portland buildings up to 50,000 square feet in size. Nonprofits can reap a rebate of up to 75 percent of project costs. Eligible improvements include improved insulation, heating and cooling equipment, lighting and controls, and food service equipment.

The work must meet federal Energy Star or Energy Trust of Oregon efficiency standards and be performed by an approved contractor.

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