Government Rebates and Tax Advantages for LED Lighting


Most of this site deals with the raw savings and comparison of bulbs and watts.  Does LED make sense just comparing these two criteria at a minimum and the answer for any period of time greater than 1 year is a resounding “Yes”.  We want to be conservative because we know businesses and individuals are leery of promises made every day for 5000% savings and/or gains.  We want to under promise and over perform in terms of LED savings.  That being said, it would be remiss not to mention government’s role in making LED’s more attractive and when you take into account rebates and special tax applications for switching to LED lighting, the savings only magnify.  Yes, we get a little excited about this so we’re going to bring the LED government rebates and taxation out as our final straw to your utility’s back.


The best place to start for a thorough and specific listing of available Federal and State rebates, incentives, and tax treatment for LED lighting can be found here:  http://dsireusa.org/   There’s all kind of information there but we recommend (and use daily) the “Search” feature on the left pane where you can bring up specific information for you State.  Let’s take a quick look at an example in our home State, California.  For our example, we’ll use a small commercial building and light installation.  We have already gone through the watt to watt comparison in our “How LED Saves You Money” article but the savings from government incentives would be on top of this top level analysis. 


The Search function is pretty fast and simple.  First drop down would be “Commercial/Industrial” followed by our State, “California”.   Under “Select a Technology”, we would select “Lighting”.  For “Implementing Sector” and “Incentive/Policy” dropdowns, keep those at “All” to start.  You’ll find a quick listing of available rebates and programs.  Let’s look at a few of the big ones.  Start with the Utilities as many of the actual rebates are actually administered through the utilities.  For example, in our situation, clicking on PG&E Non-Residential brings up a list of incentives.  A few catch our attention right off the bat.  “Lighting: $0.05 / kWh saved”, Efficient “Lighting Upgrades: $17 - $200/fixture”, and “Lamps: $1 - $20”.  This is amazing.  We based our savings in the referenced article above on 10 cents/KWH.  The Utility is now going to increase that savings by 50% for kWh saved.  The Lighting Upgrades would primarily kick in for fluorescent strip replacement since LED’s do not require ballasts (which draw watts themselves), and finally, we’ll get a fixed amount for the LED lamps of between $1 and $20.   You can quickly watch just the rebates above double our savings calculated on a pure watt to watt, lamp to lamp basis.   The best way to get a full idea of our particular situation is request the LED lighting quote but government’s actions have a tremendous impact on the already existing savings that LED’s afford.  That’s just the Utility specific rebate.


On the Federal side, we see Corporate deductions of $.30 to $1.80 per square foot.  More detail is available through a link given on that page.   There can also be depreciation advantages for LED installations on top of the above.  New programs are constantly starting and ending so it’s best to check out the above page when considering LED transitions so that you don’t miss specific rebates or tax advantages. 


What does the future hold on the governmental side?  At some point the bureaucrats are going to realize that the best and cheapest approach towards some semblance of energy independence is to foster efficiency gains available right now. The business is home grown with job gains in every local community.  They’ll get there eventually.  In the meantime, to the small and large business alike, there are significant savings to be had now and the existing government rebates amplify the underlying financial benefits of LED lighting. 

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