Nate Traylor

Utility rebates in the Golden State are due for a shakeup.

As service professionals in California know, rebate amounts on variable-speed pumps and energy-efficient heaters vary widely from district to district. For those who work in areas served by different utility providers, it can be difficult to keep track of how much money residential customer will get back on the purchase of qualifying pool and spa equipment. In some cases, they get a lot of money. In other cases, zero. For example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power currently offers homeowners $1,000 to upgrade, easily the most generous incentive going. SMUD, serving Sacramento, gives a $250 kickback. Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco, one of the largest providers in the nation, recently pulled the plug on its pool pump program.

That will change under a new policy energy companies are hammering out right now. The California Public Utilities Commission is directing investor-owned utilities to establish a standardized rebate program that would apply statewide.

“The change will ensure customers participating in these [energy-efficiency] programs have the same program opportunities and incentives regardless of where they live in the state,” said Katie Allen, spokesperson for Pacific Gas and Electric, serving northern and central California.

The program will likely be administered by a third-party and will, of course, cover a variety of energy-efficient appliances. It’s not a given that pool equipment will be included.

Allen says that pool pumps will likely be part of the rebate overhaul, but one industry observer isn’t so sure. Gary Ferstrom, an energy efficiency policy consultant, and one of the original architects of the industry ‘s very first pool pump rebate program, says there may be some debate about including VSPs.