2024 Compressed Air Incentives from Focus on Energy® for Wisconsin Manufacturers

Jan 23, 2024 by Derrick Taylor

Table of contents

Wisconsin manufacturers can save energy and optimize their compressed air systems with the help of rebate programs and energy incentives from Focus on Energy®. Focus on Energy can help manufacturers save thousands of dollars in energy bills by improving the efficiency of their compressed air systems — often at minimal cost. When you partner with Fluid-Aire Dynamics on a Focus on Energy project, you only pay the costs over and above the incentive, keeping your up-front costs to a minimum. 

What Is Focus on Energy? 

Focus on Energy is Wisconsin’s statewide program serving the customers of the 107 participating Wisconsin electric and natural gas utilities. Their mission is to help Wisconsin businesses and homeowners implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects by offering resources and financial incentives supporting implementation of those projects. They provide rebates and energy incentives to customers of participating utilities. The program is funded by Wisconsin’s investor-owned energy utilities, as required under a Wisconsin state law (Wis. Stat. § 196.374(2)(a)), and by other participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. 

Why Does Your Energy Company Want You to Use Less Energy?

Utilities want to reduce the overall load on the power grid to address growing demands on their existing infrastructure. 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 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. 

Who Is Eligible for Energy Incentives Through Focus on Energy?

Focus on Energy incentives are available to any customer of a participating utility with a qualifying project. You can check to see if your utility participates in the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program here: Focus on Energy Participating Utilities

Focus on Energy Prescriptive Incentives for Compressed Air Systems

These incentives offer a specific dollar amount for purchasing qualifying energy-saving equipment for your compressed air systems, including VSD air compressors, zero-loss condensate drains, and more. Prescriptive incentives from Focus on Energy can help companies offset the cost of energy-saving improvements to their compressed air systems. In some cases, these incentives may cover the majority of the cost. Prescriptive incentives can only be used to purchase new equipment.

Pre-approval is not required for the majority of Focus on Energy prescriptive offerings; manufacturers simply need to make sure that the equipment they are purchasing qualifies. The application can be submitted after the purchase and installation are complete. When you work with Fluid-Aire Dynamics, we are paid directly by Focus on Energy for qualifying projects and pass along the incentive to you as a reduction on your invoice. Manufacturers pay only the equipment and installation costs above and beyond what the incentive covers. 

New VSD Compressor Incentives 

If you are currently using a fixed-speed rotary screw air compressor, upgrading to a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressor could be your biggest opportunity for energy savings. 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 of the air compressor motor to meet CFM demands.

The Focus on Energy prescriptive incentive covers $50/HP towards the purchase and installation of a new VSD air compressor. The purchase must replace a non-VSD air compressor (fixed-speed rotary screw or piston) or be included in a new construction installation. There is no HP limit on this incentive. 

Qualifying purchases must meet the following requirements: 

  •     Compressor must run for a minimum of 2,000 hours annually;
  •     The system must not have previously used any VSD compressors;
  •     Backup or redundant systems do not qualify. 

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?

Prescriptive Incentives for Compressed Air Components and Accessories 

In addition to VSDs, Focus on Energy also provides prescriptive incentives toward the purchase of other compressed air system components and accessories that improve the energy efficiency of the system. 

See the 2024 Process Systems Catalog for details: 

  • Most incentives are available for both new construction and upgrades/retrofits;
  • To qualify, installation must be complete by December 31 of the calendar year of the incentive. Incentives are available until funds run out;
  • Pre-approval is not required for most prescriptive rebates but is recommended for projects more than $10,000. Applications must be submitted within 60 days of installation. Applications not pre-approved are subject to program fund availability.

Compressed Air and Vacuum Incentives

Retrofit and Upgrades

New Construction

Compressed Air Survey and Leak Repair



VSD Compressor



VSD Vacuum Pump



Cycling or VFD-Controlled Refrigerated Air Dryer



Dewpoint Demand Controls for Desiccant Dryers



Zero-Loss Condensate Drain



Pressure/Flow Controllers



Compressed Air Mist Eliminators



Compressed Air Storage



High-efficiency Air Nozzles



Vacuum Pump Heat Recovery

$60/HP (up to 50% of project cost)

$60/HP (up to 50% of project cost)

Compressed Air Process Load Shifting (pre-approval required)

$200/Compressor HP Shifted (up to 50% of project cost)





Custom Incentives

Focus on Energy also provides custom incentives for projects outside the scope of the prescriptive incentive offerings, commonly referred to as custom projects or custom incentives. These projects must be pre-approved by Focus on Energy prior to equipment being purchased, ordered or installed.

  • The incentive amount is determined based on the estimated energy savings over the first year of the project or on reduction in peak demand. The 2024 incentive rate for energy efficiency projects is $0.05 per kWh saved or $100 per peak kW demand reduction;
  • Incentives can cover up to 50% of the cost of the project;
  • The efficiency payback on the project must be more than one year and no more than 10 years;
  • Incentives only cover new equipment (not used or refurbished);
  • The maximum incentive amount a customer can receive is $300,000 per project and $400,000 total per calendar year.

To get started with a custom incentive, manufacturers must work with a Focus on Energy advisor to obtain pre-approval before the project starts and any purchase orders are made. Fluid-Aire Dynamics can help manufacturers gather required documentation and submit the application to Focus on Energy directly. 

Compressed Air Studies

Fluid-Aire Dynamics offers a variety of compressed air studies and system audits, including leak detection. These studies are a good place to start; they can help you identify opportunities for energy savings that may be covered by Focus of Energy under either a prescriptive or custom energy incentive program. If a more detailed assessment is needed, an investigative study utilizing data logging may be the best route for you.

Leak Detection and Repair 

A supply-side compressed air study looks for leaks and other inefficiencies in your compressed air system. An ultrasonic detector is used to locate pinhole leaks in compressed air piping and connections. These tiny leaks can add thousands of dollars annually to your energy bill. Leak repair represents a large opportunity for energy savings for many manufacturers. On average, about 35% of compressed air produced is wasted. Finding and fixing leaks will keep compressed air waste to a minimum. 

Focus on Energy offers $5/HP for leak detection and repair. The incentive may cover up to 100% of survey and repair costs up to $5,000 in a calendar year. 

Aire Tip: A 1-CFM leak will add ~$35 in energy costs per shift. 

Data Logging

Data logging is an inexpensive, easy and non-invasive way to measure important indicators of compressed air demand. A data logging study involves attaching an amp meter to system controls for the air compressor for an extended time (usually about two weeks). The meter records amperage every five seconds. 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. 

We can use this information to identify opportunities for energy savings, which could include lowering overall plant pressure, installing a smaller backup system for periods of low demand, or upgrading to a VSD air compressor. 

Getting Started with Focus on Energy for Compressed Air Systems

Fluid-Aire Dynamics makes it easy to qualify for incentives through Focus on Energy. We are a Registered Trade Ally for compressed air system energy incentives through Focus on Energy. We’ll even fill out the paperwork for you and provide all the required documentation to make participation as easy as possible. 

We can:

  •     Conduct compressed air studies through the Focus on Energy program;
  •     Identify your greatest opportunities for energy savings and incentives;
  •     Fix leaks or install qualifying equipment and upgrades.

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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