With lower energy bills, this clinic can help more people

Duke Energy crafts custom solution to help nonprofit save energy and money

For a nonprofit, every dollar saved is one that can be put toward achieving its mission. At Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh, N.C., Executive Director Pete Tannenbaum looked at his energy bill and thought there was an opportunity to save.

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Alliance Medical Ministry Executive Director Pete Tannenbaum, right, met with a Duke Energy business energy advisor, Tom DelViscio, to find ways to save energy and lower the nonprofit's energy bill.

He was right, and, after working with Duke Energy, his nonprofit will save about $200 a month by switching to LED lighting with plans for more upgrades and savings.

Alliance Medical Ministry provides medical care for Wake County’s working poor – people with jobs but can’t afford insurance and don’t qualify for income-based health coverage like Medicaid. Last year they had 11,500 patient visits. More than 63 percent have diabetes and more than half have an additional chronic illness like obesity or hypertension and are coming to Alliance from emergency rooms.

“We are basically their lifeline,” Tannenbaum said.

Alliance takes a comprehensive approach to health care. Unlike for-profit medical offices, doctors are not under pressure to rush an appointment with a patient who has complex issues.

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The nonprofit medical offices are located in a former church, which was extremely energy inefficient.

They offer education in fitness, health and cooking and a community garden that donates more than 2,000 pounds of vegetables to its patients each year. For the past 10 years, Tannenbaum said, the doctors’ offices have been in a roughly 25,000-square-foot former church that leaks energy.

If he could lower their energy costs, he could put that money into providing care. Like most nonprofit leaders, Tannenbaum is juggling tight budgets and didn’t know where to start. So, he called Duke Energy to see if there was anything they could do.

The answer was yes. Tom DelViscio, a business energy advisor, found ways to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

“Right away,” Tannenbaum said, “Tom knew what our problems were, and he addressed them.”

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Without much money to invest in upgrades, DelViscio's recommendation was to replace their lighting with LEDs. Through Duke Energy's programs and services, they were installed with little up-front cost and will save the nonprofit about $200 per month.

DelViscio has more than 1,000 small business clients, and his job is to help them look at their operations holistically and find the right combination of products and services that can help them achieve their goals. Through more than 100 Duke Energy programs, they can take advantage of offerings from outdoor lighting to refrigeration and electric vehicle charging.

Because Alliance didn’t have much capital to invest in upgrades, they started with low-cost improvements like replacing lights with LEDs. They installed more than 150, which DelViscio estimates will save $200 a month.

In addition to securing new lights with minimal up-front cost, they found that replacing their aging HVAC system could save $8,000 per year.

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Tannenbaum and DelViscio plan to use the savings to invest in additional upgrades that will save the nonprofit even more.

The up-front investment in the HVAC is too great now, but they plan to use their savings to fund the replacement in a couple years, and DelViscio introduced Tannenbaum to a representative of the HVAC unit’s manufacturer (a Duke Energy Smart$aver Business Trade Ally) who’s helping Alliance find a way to afford the upgrades.

“Our goal is to provide our customers and communities with energy efficiency programs and money saving options to meet the many challenges our business customers face,” Duke Energy’s Vice President of Market Solutions and Innovation Michael Luhrs said. “We take great satisfaction in building our relationship with community members like Alliance to provide additional efficiencies now and in the future.”

Energy efficiency programs

Duke Energy offers incentives and rebates for energy efficiency upgrades for businesses and institutions.

Florida: Businesses can earn incentives for existing and new construction, including upgrading HVAC equipment (including energy recovery ventilation) or a custom project.

Indiana: Duke Energy offers rebates for lighting, HVAC and agricultural equipment upgrades and custom incentives for other upgrades.

Kentucky: Commercial and industrial equipment, HVAC systems, lighting – whatever you’re upgrading, you may be able to get a rebate or incentive.

North Carolina: In North Carolina, as well as throughout Duke Energy territory, custom incentives may be available for installing automation controls, upgrading compressed air systems or implementing other unique energy-efficient technologies.

Ohio: In addition to other rebates and incentives, Duke Energy Ohio offers rebates for business customers who haven't received them for eligible equipment installed or retrofitted since Jan. 1, 2014.

South Carolina: Duke Energy Carolinas customers can take advantage of incentives and rebates through Smart $aver and other programs. Duke Energy Progress offers Smart $aver and other programs for businesses.