Companies are rushing to take advantage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act and its federal tax incentives for installations of energy-efficient lighting this year and next. According to the Daily Oklahoman, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates lighting accounts for about a quarter of energy usage in the United States. Businesses, many open 24/7, spend an average of 40 percent of their electricity bills on lighting. While lawmakers consider whether to extend the act’s incentives through 2010, companies like GE are advising companies to take advantage of the tax savings now.

“It’s an advantage for anyone paying federal taxes,” said Joe Howley, GE manager of industry relations and environmental marketing. “There is some activity in Congress to get it extended to 2010, but we’re advising companies to do any project they can this coming year.”

GE has been holding seminars throughout the United States to educate companies about the advantages of making upgrades, hoping to gain business through the process. One company that made the switchover after one such seminar is Paccar Winch of Okmulgee, Okla., which will spend about $50,000 to install energy-efficient fluorescent lighting throughout its 83,000-square-foot facility.

“Even without the tax incentive, the new lights will save us money,” said John Berg, Paccar Winch manufacturing engineer, who estimates savings of nearly 60 percent on yearly lighting bills. When combined with the tax deduction, he said, the upgrade will pay for itself.

The incentives allow companies to reduce nearly the full cost of upgrades from taxable income during the first year of service, with exact amounts depending on energy savings. Usually such investments are written off a little each year for up to 39 years. NEMA estimates that the incentive will fuel an additional $500 million in sales for lighting systems and products among its members.     EC

© Information Inc.