BWL rebates ease move toward energy efficiency through electrification


I recently installed a charger in my garage to accommodate one of my rooming house boarders who drives an electric car. I figured she wouldn’t be the last person sharing my home who would own such a vehicle. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I would receive a $500 rebate for doing this — covering a significant portion of the cost!

Rebates usually give me pause because they seem to involve lots of forms and more effort than they’re worth.  I’m here to report that the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s residential electric charger rebate was as painless as I’ve ever pursued.

BWL offers several hefty rebates to encourage electrification and solar-powered energy. I learned about the newest of these rebates at a presentation to the Community and Economic Development Network recently by Aileen Gow, a BWL energy analyst, and colleagues:

  • Electric bikes, or “E-bikes”: Rebates range from $300 to $1,200 (depending on income status) to reward you for helping to reduce traffic congestion and lower local emissions by biking. Note that E-Cargo Bikes are included.
  • Induction cooking equipment: Folks willing to convert from gas to electric conduction cooktops can receive a $1,000 rebate. Induction cooktops can be pricey right now, so rebates are offered to ease the financial burden of switching until increased demand for these energy-efficient appliances grows sufficiently to bring the price down.
  • Electric lawn equipment: Rebates of $25 to $150 (more if you recycle your old lawn mower) may encourage people to switch from gas-powered equipment to battery-operated mowers, trimmers, chain-saws and blowers. Your neighbors might appreciate a quieter and cleaner tool this summer. (Note: Rebates are also offered to commercial lawn care businesses.)
  • Electric forklift rebates (commercial and industrial sector): BWL offers $2,000 to $4,000 to improve air quality in distribution centers and factories depending on the battery type.

Those are only the newest  BWL incentives. They build on these longstanding programs:

  • Appliance recycling rebates: I just got rid of an old, inefficient mini-refrigerator! Freezers, dehumidifiers, and room air conditioners also qualify. Rebates for purchasing and installing ENERGY STAR® appliances and LED Lighting have been popular for some time now.
  • Home energy visits: I usually avoid these but found the one-hour visit well spent. I was surprised to find out how “leaky” my house is — wasting conditioned air in places I’d never imagined. I also received several LED bulbs for learning from the adviser how to save money by being more energy-efficient!
  • Distributed generation: This involves installing your own solar array and receiving payment for excess energy returned to the BWL. You may also be eligible for a rebate of $500 per kilowatt (kW), up to $2,000. At roughly $3,000 per kW for multiple roof panels, this is on my long-term wish list.

BWL offers several other incentives for residential customers and several offerings for commercial, industrial and nonprofit customers ( For instance, BWL has invested generously in the Allen Neighborhood Center to serve as a demonstration site for solar and electrification projects. As part of this effort, BWL recently installed electric vehicle charging stations and solar carports in the back lot of Allen Place. In addition, the 21-unit Allen Place apartment building that opened in late 2021 is all electric. This initially presented challenges such as training our tenants to program heat pumps, which I expect to become more common as another way to meet clean energy goals.

Incentives, rebates, demonstration sites, charging stations, etc., result from the BWL prioritizing reducing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming carbon neutral by 2040. These ambitious and important goals will require significantly increasing wind and solar energy megawatts over the next couple of decades. If the BWL can engage enough large and small energy users, we can move toward these goals more reliably.

We are clearly in transition, locally and globally, and this complicated shift toward clean energy is taking longer than many would like. For instance, some local citizens want less reliance on natural gas, while the BWL tries to balance clean energy goals with affordability and reliability challenges. 

I’m heartened by BWL’s efforts — as well as Consumers Energy, which also offers rebates and incentives — to continue creating opportunities for individuals to participate in the solution. I encourage you to check out the BWL options available to you to save money and support clean energy. It may not be the most impactful thing you can do to address climate change, but it is something.

(Joan Nelson is the retired founding executive director of the Allen Neighborhood Center. Her column appears monthly.)


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