Midstream HVAC rebate programs are still far from ready
The recent Energy Waste Reduction collaborative meeting in Lansing was met with a rather large turnout. Presentations were given on existing midstream HVAC rebate programs and proposed programs by representatives of utilities and implementation contractors.
With a midstream program, a customer purchases equipment for example, and a contractor distributor give the discount to the contractor who passes the discount to homeowner and the distributor is reimbursed by utility. The problem with the distributor rebate is that it places an undue burden on the distributor and will take away from the integrity of the rebate program as opposed to contractor doing as it has been done for 10 years. With a midstream program, there is not much of a way to guarantee that the customer will get his/her rebate unlike the current system where the customer gets a check after submitting his/her rebate.
Basically, instead of the contractor processing a rebate, the distributor processes the rebate which can take away form the integrity of the program without ensuring that homeowner gets the rebate.
MIACCA and others were on hand to communicate the specific concerns of contractors and distributors of having the wholesaler process the rebate; which generated good questions and significant discussion.
Throughout the formal presentations, multiple concerns about midstream HVAC programs were acknowledged including the potential for over-sizing and poor equipment installation, the rebate not getting to the home owner, delayed reimbursement to the distributor and shifting admin burden to the distributor among other topics.
It seem that utilities, implementation contractors, and others were all on the same page that midstream HVAC programs are far from ready to roll out at a large scale. To be clear, the utilities are still interested in trying to find a way to make these work. But the door is open for much more discussion with all partners first.
MIACCA will continue to actively follow these sessions and report back as more information is made available.