ComEd Compressed Air Energy Incentives

Jan 11, 2022 by Brad Taylor


Northern Illinois manufacturers can save thousands of dollars in energy bills by improving the efficiency of their compressed air systems. Thanks to energy incentive programs from ComEd, optimizing your compressed air system may cost little or nothing.

ComEd offers several energy incentives and rebate programs for manufacturing customers in Northern Illinois. These programs pay for leak detection and repair as well as providing rebates for Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressors and other energy-saving upgrades to your compressed air system. ComEd has expanded their Small Business Program, which offers additional incentives, to companies with peak demand up to 200kW per month!

ComEd Incentive Programs for Compressed Air in Northern Illinois

ComEd, like many energy suppliers, provides incentives to help large energy users reduce their consumption. Why would your energy company want you to use less energy? For a couple of reasons. First, energy companies get incentives from the government to reduce their carbon footprint, which means reducing the amount of energy their customers consume. Second, energy companies want to reduce the overall load on the power grid. By helping their customers be more energy-efficient, energy companies can forestall expensive infrastructure upgrades, reduce the risk of outages, and better regulate supply and demand.

Manufacturers and other large energy users provide the greatest opportunity for energy companies like ComEd to reduce the overall load on the power grid and avoid big swings in energy demand. For many manufacturers, the compressed air system represents a large share of their overall energy consumption. Inefficiencies in compressed air systems can add thousands of dollars to the average manufacturer’s energy bill and add to the strain on the power grid.

That’s why ComEd and other power companies target incentives and rebate programs specifically to compressed air users. If you are a ComEd customer, you have already paid for the energy incentive program as part of your electricity bill. You’ll find the program under the “Taxes and Fees” section of your energy bill. And since you’ve already paid for it, you might as well use it!

For ComEd, these programs include:

  • Standard and Custom Energy Incentive Programs
  • Small Business Program (extra incentives for companies with less than 200 kW peak demand usage)
  • Comprehensive Program (for companies with greater than 400 kW peak demand usage)
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Standard and Custom Energy Incentive Programs from ComEd 

ComEd Energy offers rebate programs to offset the cost of upgrading compressed air equipment. These programs fall into two main categories:

  • Standard Prescriptive Rebate Programs: These programs offer a defined rebate for the purchase of energy-saving upgrades for your compressed air systems, including VSD air compressors, zero-loss condensate drains, and more.
  • Custom Efficiency Projects: This program provides rebates for other types of improvements based on the kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy saved.

Prescriptive and custom energy incentive programs from ComEd can help companies offset the cost of energy-saving improvements to their compressed air systems; in some cases, these rebates may cover the majority of the cost. Generally, these programs will cover the cost of new equipment only. Both standard and custom rebate programs will require pre-approval prior to the purchase and installation of new equipment.

When you fill out your paperwork, you can designate your compressed air vendor as the recipient of the rebate. Then, your vendor will bill you for only the cost of the equipment above and beyond what the rebate program covers. At Fluid-Aire Dynamics we have experts who can help you complete all the required paperwork – just ask your sales representative for more information.

Variable Speed Drive (VSD) Prescriptive Rebate Programs

The ComEd Standard Incentive Program covers several different kinds of energy upgrades for industrial compressed air systems but upgrading to VSD delivers the highest payoff. VSD air compressors save energy by controlling the frequency supplied to the drive motor on the air compressor in response to real-time demand on the system. When demand is low, the motor will run at a reduced speed, requiring less energy to operate. When demand for compressed air is higher, the VSD will automatically increase the frequency to the air compressor motor to meet CFM demand. An average-size manufacturer may see $15K-20K in annual energy savings when upgrading from a fixed-speed rotary screw compressor to a VSD compressor.

The ComEd rebate program covers $95 per HP for new air compressors with integrated VSD (up to 200 HP) when replacing an existing fixed-speed rotary screw compressor or installing a new one for a new facility or expansion.

VSD air compressors larger than 200 HP may qualify for incentives under ComEd’s custom efficiency programs.

Aire Tip: Switching from a rotary screw air compressor to a VSD air compressor could save up to 70% on energy consumption for compressed air. Read more: Why Choose or Upgrade to a Variable Speed Drive Air Compressor?

Other Compressed Air Prescriptive Rebate Programs

ComEd offers several additional prescriptive rebate programs for compressed air:

  • Zero-Loss Drains: Cover $100/drain for installation of zero-loss condensate drains, which eliminate the loss of compressed air during manual or timer-based draining.
  • Refrigerated Dryers: Covers $3/CFM for installation of a variable speed dryer, $2/CFM for a digital scroll dryer, or $1/CFM for a thermal mass dryer.
  • Desiccant Dryers: Covers $4/CFM for the heat of compression desiccant compressed air dryers OR heated blower purge compressed air dryers.
  • Compressed Air Pressure Flow Controller: Covers $10/air compressor HP for pressure flow controllers.
  • Air Storage: Covers $1.50/gallon for added compressor storage on load/no load systems.
  • Low-pressure drop filters: $3.50/connected HP for low-pressure drop filters.

Custom Efficiency Projects

ComEd provides rebates for custom efficiency projects outside the scope of the prescriptive rebate program. These projects are approved on a case-by-case basis based on the amount of energy saved. Custom projects include the installation of VSD air compressors larger than 200 HP and other energy-saving projects not covered by the prescriptive programs.

Custom incentive programs pay up to $0.12 for each kWh of energy saved, up to 100% of the cost of the efficiency improvement. Customers can work with their compressed air vendor and/or ComEd Outreach Service provider to calculate their current energy consumption and the new proposed energy consumption. The project must then be pre-approved by ComEd. Once the project is complete, manufacturers may have to submit some measurements to demonstrate that the projected efficiency has been achieved.

ComEd Small Business Program for Compressed Air Energy Incentives

Starting in January 2021, the ComEd Small Business Program is now expanded to include manufacturers with up to 200 kW peak usage. (It was previously limited to manufacturers with demand up to up to 100 kW).

There are two ways to qualify for this program.

  • If you have a demand of less than 100 kW, you will automatically qualify. To see whether you qualify for this program, look at your ComEd energy bill. On the first page, it will clearly say in bold print “0-100 kW Demand.”  If this appears on your bill, you can apply for the Small Business Energy Incentive Program.
  • If your demand is between 100 kW and 400 kW, you may still qualify if you do not have a peak demand of more than 200 kW in any month over the last 12 months.

This ComEd Small Business program has incentives to help manufacturers make a variety of energy-saving upgrades to their systems, including but not limited to upgrades to their compressed air systems. Under this program, ComEd will provide:

  • A free energy assessment of your facility
  • A detailed report with recommendations for energy efficiency projects
  • Instant incentives for purchase and installation of recommended efficiency upgrades

ComEd offers these rebates in the Small Business Program for compressed air:

  • $400/HP for Variable Speed Drive (VSD) Compressor to replace an existing fixed speed rotary screw air compressor. For small businesses with air compressors up to 200 HP, ComEd will pay In many cases, this will pay for more than 75% of the capital cost of a new VSD air compressor. (Read more about the benefits of VSD below.)
  • $500/Zero-Loss Condensate Drain, which eliminates the loss of compressed air during manual or timer-based draining
  • $10/CFM for Installation of a Variable Speed Refrigerated Dryer, replacement of a standard non-cycling refrigerated compressed air dryer of the same capacity
  • $150/HP for added Compressor Air Storage on load/no load systems
  • $50/High-Efficiency Air Nozzle to reduce air loss
  • $50/HP for Compressed Air Leak Repair 
  • $50/Compressor for Compressed Air Pressure Reduction 

Comprehensive Energy Incentive Programs from ComEd

ComEd’s comprehensive program is targeted at companies with peak usage greater than 100 kW. These programs cover compressed air leak detection and repair and comprehensive energy studies for large manufacturers. The projects have three phases.

  • Investigation: Each project starts with an energy efficiency study completed by ComEd and/or an authorized ComEd partner. The study identifies the biggest opportunities for energy savings and estimates the annual kWh savings for each improvement.
  • Installation: The recommended installation, repair, or upgrade is completed by an authorized ComEd partner. As with the prescriptive programs, you can designate your compressed air vendor as the rebate recipient, so you only have to pay for costs over and above what the incentive will cover.
  • Verification: Custom programs must have a follow-up study completed after the installation to verify that the estimated energy savings have been realized. ComEd pays the vendor once the verification study is complete.

The Fix-it-Now Leak Detection and Repair Program

The Fix-it-Now Leak Repair program is one of ComEd’s most popular programs. Unlike most prescriptive and custom energy incentive programs from ComEd, the Fix-it-Now Leak Repair program does not require pre-approval. Under this program, manufacturers can get most compressed air leaks fixed at no cost and make other energy-saving improvements. Manufacturers must commit to repairing at least 50% of the leaks detected.

ComEd will pay up to $120 for each leak detected and repaired. This covers the cost of repair for all but the largest or most complex leaks. The money is paid directly to the vendor, so there are no up-front costs for manufacturers. To qualify, manufacturers must:

  • Have peak demand usage >100 kW on your electric bill
  • Have a compressed air system of 25 HP or larger (not including backup systems)
  • Repair at least 50% of leaks identified
  • Repair at least one leak for every five HP of non-backup air compressors
  • Be located in an eligible zip code within ComEd’s service area

Leak repair can save thousands of dollars on your compressed air energy bill. ComEd will cover leak detection and repair as often as every nine months so you can stay on top of new leaks as they develop.

Fluid-Aire Dynamics is an approved service provider under the ComEd Fix-it-Now Leak Repair program. We use an ultrasonic detector to locate leaks in your compressed air system that are too small to detect with human senses. We’ll repair as many leaks as possible on the spot, and then send the bill to ComEd. If leaks are too numerous to fix in a single visit, we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment. Leaks that will cost more than $120 to repair are tagged, and we’ll give you an estimate for the additional costs not covered by the ComEd program.

Aire Tip: Leaks in your compressed air system can add 30% or more to your compressed air energy bill. Read more about the cost of leaks in your compressed air system. 

Comprehensive Industrial Study

Businesses with peak usage of >100 kW may qualify for a comprehensive energy efficiency study from ComEd. These studies cover five areas of energy use:

  • Compressed Air
  • Process Cooling
  • Industrial Refrigeration
  • Wastewater Treatment/Water Supply
  • Process Efficiency

The compressed air portion of the study will most likely include both leak detection and data logging. Data logging involves attaching a sensor such as a pressure gauge or amp meter to the system for an extended time period, typically at least two weeks. In most cases, amp meter data logging is sufficient for a compressed air study. Monitoring energy use by the air compressor over time allows us to extrapolate important information such as the average duty cycle, time spent loaded and unloaded, peak usage times, and the variability in energy use over a shift, day, or week.

Collecting data over time while the system is in normal operation provides insights into system performance that can be used to identify opportunities for savings. For example, if you have large variations in compressed air demand, the study may recommend installing a smaller HP backup compressor for use during periods of low demand. The energy savings created by reducing dependence on a large compressor may more than pay for the cost of the smaller compressor. A comprehensive study can also tell you if you are running your compressed air system at a higher pressure than necessary.

Manufacturers who implement energy-saving measures identified in the comprehensive study qualify for up to $0.12 for each kWh of energy saved under the ComEd Industrial Systems Program. In many cases, this is enough to cover all or most of the cost of the upgrade. Equipment and systems that commonly qualify for custom or comprehensive incentives include:

  • Blower systems
  • Compressed air demand (tools, CNC equipment, etc.)
  • Fan systems
  • Hydraulic systems
  • Pump systems
  • Vacuum systems

Aire Tip: When you complete three qualifying energy incentive projects within a two-year period, you may qualify for an additional 20% back in energy incentives from ComEd.

Getting Started with ComEd Energy Incentives for Compressed Air Systems

Fluid-Aire makes it easy to qualify for incentive and rebate programs from ComEd. We are an authorized service provider for compressed air system energy incentives through ComEd. We’ll even fill out the paperwork for you and provide all the required documentation. We can:

  • Conduct compressed air studies through the ComEd program
  • Identify your greatest opportunities for energy savings and rebates
  • Detect and repair leaks through the Fix-it-Now program
  • Install qualifying equipment and upgrades, including VSD air compressors

Contact us to learn how we can help you improve the energy efficiency of your compressed air system. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start saving money on your energy bill!

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We are here to serve your compressed air system needs 24/7/365. Call or click today!

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