The Time is Ripe for Midstream Commercial Lighting Program Design

Will Walker

Over the past several years, we’ve seen dramatic and exciting changes in lighting technologies and applications. Utilities are seeing a surge in availability, competitive pricing, and market demand for high-efficient lighting like never before. Residential programs, widely known for their agile program design, are enjoying mass participation in their upstream retail promotions with low-cost, high-quality LEDs. Meanwhile, commercial programs are slowly updating their prescriptive paper applications in an effort to maintain the pace of quickly changing lighting market.

During our recent webinar, “Midstream Solutions for Commercial Programs,” we discussed the challenge of staying current on the technical applications and volatile prices of LED products as well as a solution to better engage the market and increase program participation without increasing costs. Specifically, we examined how the midstream program design achieves this by moving up the supply chain to the distribution channel from the end-use customer and extensive trade ally networks.


Similar to the relationship between a home owner and a big box hardware store, commercial customers and contractors go to their lighting products distributor to better understand the various technical applications of our changing lighting market, and their respective prices, to create choices and inform decisions towards the best lighting configuration for their needs. These knowledgeable market actors cater to specific market segments and product types, aligning neatly with utility goals for small/medium business, national accounts, niche business segments and more. If distributors are already engaging your commercial customers on a daily basis – and moving nearly 95 percent of all lighting products into the region – why not equipthemwith information, incentives and training?

The 30-minute webinar flew by as we covered the following finer points of implementing a midstream commercial lighting program:

  • Working with distributors: Distributors are eager to move their products and are experts at motivating their customers. Ecova ensures that distributors understand the benefits of participation: drive higher sales and sales margins and become experts in offering efficient products.
  • Customer, product and savings validation: Ecova’s programs work with distributors to establish secure, sophisticated communication channels that allow them to identify eligible customers and products before offering incentives. Distributors feel confident offering the rebates while utilities feel confident the right customers are getting the right rebates through real-time data.
  • “Get surgical”: The distribution channel is perfectly set up to test specific measures and incentives. Rather than blanketing the market with messages and offers, the program uses distributors as the conduit to test specific products, incentive levels, and other methods to motivate customer participation.
  • Brand recognition: The distribution channel engages contractors, facility managers, and end-use customers alike. They provide a consistent message to each of these influencers and buyers and can distribute the utility message as well as lighting products. There are a variety of strategies to ensure customer attribution, all of which start with highly-engage distribution channel.

So is a midstream program design right for utility commercial efficiency programs? The answer is almost always yes! Partnering with the distribution channel allows for flexibility and greater market insight, so there’s no way you can go wrong. A midstream design offers even greater potential for other technologies. As regional markets increase their high-efficiency lighting saturation, there are opportunities for utilities to seek commercial kWh savings in HVAC, water heaters, kitchen equipment, motors and more.

Learn more by watching the “Midstream Solutions for Commercial Programs” webinar, or contact us to speak with an Ecova Utility Solutions representative.

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