Branford Small Business Energy Advantage: Save Money and the Environment

Pam Johnson/

06/10/2022 06:39 p.m. EST

Branford small businesses looking to cut energy costs while helping the environment can sign up now for a free energy efficiency audit offered as part of Branford’s participation in the Energize Connecticut (CT)  Small Business Energy Advantage program (SBEA); resulting cost-saving energy programs and loans which can be incentivized by Eversource Energy.

On Monday, June 6, local small business representatives were invited to join Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove for a business meet and greet at Stony Creek Brewery, hosted by Branford Clean Energy Committee (CEC) and Branford Economic Development Commission (EDC). They were joined by Eversource Energy representatives and Eversource authorized contractors who shared information about the program.

Working with CEC, the Town of Branford has moved forward with energy efficiency initiatives for municipal buildings as well as offering solar initiatives for schools and residential homes.

Speaking to business owners on June 6 with regard to the SBEA program, Cosgrove said, “We really see this as an opportunity to not only promote the environmental benefits to our town, but also really promote the financial benefits in support of our business community. Our role is to validate these programs where you can really benefit not only environmentally, but operationally and financially, [and] to make connections.”

“We teamed up to try to let businesses know that there are some options out there that could save you some energy, and in many cases, it saves you more money than it costs you,” said Perry Maresca, Branford’s Economic Business Development Manager.

Branford EDC chair Cathy Lezon, who is also an Eversource Community Relations & Economic Development officer, said it’s easy for small businesses to “…sign up, get an assessment, get numbers and make a decision on what’s best for your business.”

“This program is really my favorite of all our [Eversource] energy efficiency programs,” said Lezon. “We’ve got approved contractors that we have vetted that know the program and make it easy for you to get involved. The program can give you up to 50 percent of the installed cost of your project — it varies depending on your specific needs – but there [are] significant dollars here. There’s financing that you can get for up to 48 months and we put the loan repayment right on your electric bill; so it’s just part of paying your electric bill every month.”

Lezon noted most of the loans range from zero to very low interest rates.

“As you’re paying for the project month to month, the energy savings that you’ve achieved from doing the project can give you a cash neutral or even a cash positive result,” Lezon said, adding that, while projects will vary based on findings for individual businesses or buildings, “…in many cases, the project savings pays for the cost of the project.”

Just some of the types of businesses which can benefit from the SBEA program include retail, offices, condominium associations, grocery and convenience stores, health care facilities, restaurants, manufacturing and religious institutions. CEC also provided the example of Branford Parthenon Diner owner John Sousoulas, who has saved more than 10 percent on his electricity costs by participating in the SBEA program.

The June 6 event also brought in approved contractor company representatives Stephan Hartmann, National Sales Manager for Earthlight Solar and Energy Solutions (Ellington), and Dan Robertson, CEO, Artis Energy Solutions (Middletown). Both shared information about the audit/assessment process.

Robertson said the review is customized to create efficiencies in each facility and help meet individual business goals. Approved contractors also offer warrantees on equipment and labor.

“We’re here to support you, help you save money and grow your business,” said Robertson.

Hartmann said the goal is to “…leave no stone unturned” during the audit process, adding that even “micro-business” projects are being incentivized to participate.  He also said that, currently, utility companies are motivated to incentivize businesses, municipalities and non-profits seeking to install Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations.

“If you want to bring those EV drivers to your business, now is a good time to do it, and we’d be glad to help you out with that,” said Hartmann.

According to information shared by Energize CT, typical energy saving measures will involve installing LED lighting and energy-saving controls, high-efficiency HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) and controls, high-efficiency refrigeration and insulation and air sealing.

Branford small businesses interested in having a free, SBEA program audit can contact CEC business chair Bob Babcock to sign up, by calling (203) 619-2100 or emailing  CEC will connect businesses with approved contractors.

“At the local level, we get the leads and we give them to approved contractors for Eversource,” said Babcock.

There is no obligation for businesses to undertake the cost-saving measures identified.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting a free audit and the possibility of saving a lot of dollars,” said Babcock. “Frankly, there’s real money here.”

Gavin Renz of Renz Development (Branford) was among business owners attending the June 6 meet and greet. Renz said he wants to have some of his commercial buildings audited to see what efficiencies can be found, especially at a time when supply chain issues and rising costs are hitting small business owners hard.

“My job is to create business environments for business,” said Renz. “In my world, every dollar is spoken for. This is an opportunity to get incentivized and get ahead of the curve. But it’s also an opportunity to become more efficient; and if you can do the same thing with less energy, you’re spending less money.”

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