Small Business Energy Saver Program: Guidelines

Last updated: 26 March 2021

The Small Business Energy Saver Program (Program) is designed to support the delivery of the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) program to Victorian small businesses and is open for all eligible Accredited Persons (APs) to participate.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) invites APs to participate in this Program to assist in the delivery of eligible VEU activities and to deliver the Small Business Energy Saver Bonus (Bonus) to small businesses.

1. Program overview

1.1 This $9.1 million Program will support Victorian small businesses by providing an additional financial incentive for existing VEU activities. SV will provide a Bonus to participating small businesses which will be delivered through APs.

1.2 This Program runs in parallel with the VEU program by providing a Bonus to further offset the price of eligible VEU activities. All eligible VEU activities under this Program can be found in the Program Activity Schedule. This schedule also defines the multiplier factors that can be applied to specific VEU activities to calculate the Bonus amount available to small businesses.

1.3 The Bonus will be applied by APs to the price of eligible VEU activities and may be claimed from SV upon the submission of relevant documents to SV and the registration of Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs) with the Essential Services Commission (ESC) under the VEU program. The Bonus aims to significantly reduce the price of eligible VEU activities to small businesses. The Program also seeks to overcome barriers to the uptake of the VEU program in regional Victoria by increasing incentives available across the regions.

1.4 To assist in the promotion of this Program and recruitment of small businesses, SV will also support organisations such as local governments, Greenhouse Alliances and industry associations who will act as intermediaries.

Intermediaries will promote the Program to small businesses across Victoria and encourage these businesses to connect with registered APs to obtain the discounted energy efficiency upgrades. APs will be required to respond directly to the demand for upgrades under the Program, deliver the upgrades and apply the Bonus to reduce the price of the upgrade.

1.5 The Program will be delivered between 7 March 2021 and 31 May 2022. APs are encouraged to register as soon as practicable but have until 31 August 2021 to register. APs will also be required to comply with the Terms and Conditions of Participation.

2. Program objectives

2.1 The objectives of the Program are to:

  • increase investment in energy-efficient upgrades for small businesses
  • reduce small businesses’ energy costs through decreased energy consumption
  • build the capability and capacity of APs and contractors/installers to deliver the VEU program to small businesses and to Victorian regional areas
  • engage local governments, Greenhouse Alliances and industry associations to actively promote the VEU program and energy upgrade opportunities to small businesses across a diverse range of activities and Victorian regions.

3. Eligibility

AP eligibility

3.1 To participate in the Program, APs must complete the Registration Form. APs should register as soon as possible and no later than 31 August 2021.

3.2 To be eligible to participate in the Program, APs must:

3.3 SV may seek information from the ESC in respect of APs past participation and compliance performance in the VEU program, including details of specific activities delivered under this Program.

What is a small business?

3.4 A small business is defined as a business that is located in Victoria, has between one and 19 employees and operates from commercial (non-residential) premises. It encompasses businesses such as retail operations, food service businesses, commercial accommodation businesses (excluding Airbnb or similar), offices, warehouses and manufacturing businesses.

3.5 The definition excludes:

  • agricultural primary producers (ie farmers) who are eligible for participation in the Agricultural Energy Investment Plan
  • sole traders and micro businesses working from home.

3.6 Small business customers who benefit from the installation of an eligible VEU activity will be required to sign a declaration that confirms that it is an eligible small business (Customer Declaration).

The Customer Declaration will also be signed to authorise the installer and the AP to share relevant information with SV for the purposes of this Program and to confirm that it has received the benefit of the Bonus. A form of this declaration will be available to download from the SV website.

What VEU installation activities are eligible for the Bonus?

3.7 The Program offers a Bonus to be applied to the price of eligible VEU activities listed on the Program Activity Schedule.

The types of eligible VEU activities include:

  • replacing inefficient electric water heaters with efficient gas, solar, heat pump options
  • installing single and two-door refrigerators, upright freezers or refrigerated display cabinets
  • installing water-efficient pre-rinse spray valves
  • installing a fan motor in a ducted fan or partition fan, or a high-efficiency MEPS listed motor
  • upgrading to an energy-efficient room air conditioner

3.8 The Bonus cannot be applied to:

  • VEU upgrades at a business that is not a small business (see definition above in sections 3.4 and 3.5)
  • VEU upgrades at residential premises
  • prescribed activities under VEU that are not listed in the Program Activity Schedule (which may be updated from time to time)
  • upgrades within businesses that are eligible for participation in the Agricultural Energy Investment Plan (ie farm energy-efficiency upgrades)
  • upgrades in small businesses located outside Victoria
  • upgrades that have already taken place (that is, prior to APs registering with SV under this Program).

3.9 The Program Activity Schedule outlines eligible VEU activities that will attract the Bonus under this Program. The schedule also contains a set of multiplier factors to apply to the activities to calculate the amount of the Bonus applicable to the particular activity.

4. Calculating the Bonus

4.1 The Program Activity Schedule provides a list of eligible VEU activities under this Program and a set of multiplier factors that should be applied to these activities to calculate the correct amount of Bonus vouchers available.

Each Bonus voucher represents $40 (ex GST).

The formula for calculating the Bonus is:

No of Bonus vouchers = VEECs x multiplier factor

No of Bonus vouchers x $40 = Total Bonus value

Example 1: A hairdresser in Maryborough upgrades an electric hot water service to a heat pump water heater which attracts 31 VEECs

No. of Bonus vouchers = 31 VEECs x 0.5 (multiplier) = 15.5 Bonus vouchers

Total Bonus value = 15.5 vouchers x $40 = $620 deducted from the heater price.

Example 2: A café in suburban Melbourne wishes to replace its room air con to air heat pump which attracts 1.9 VEECs.

No of Bonus vouchers = 1.9 VEECs x 26 (multiplier) = 49.4 Bonus vouchers

Total Bonus value = 49.4 vouchers x $40 = $1,976 deducted from the system price.

4.2 The relevant multipliers have been developed by SV having regard to the current rate of activity uptake and pricing in the VEU program and are applied against activities to incentivise the uptake of particular eligible VEU activities.

The multipliers are variable at SV’s discretion, and may be altered if necessary to achieve the objectives of the Program. SV will not alter the multipliers without first giving reasonable notice to APs and any alteration will not adversely affect activities being undertaken at that time.

4.3 The $40 voucher value is a nominal amount that has been determined by SV. It is not anticipated that this amount will change.

5. Bonus allocation

5.1 On registration, APs will be allocated a fixed Bonus allocation (of say $40,000). The Bonus allocation is to be utilised within an initial delivery period of three months from the date of registration with the Program. This allocation will assist SV to monitor the Program and will be reviewed regularly having regard to the rate of VEU activity completed under the Program.

5.2 If an AP utilises, or is likely to utilise, its Bonus allocation before the expiry of the delivery period, it may request an allocation review from SV and ask for another Bonus allocation and delivery period.

5.3 If, on the other hand, an AP is not sufficiently active in the first three months, and looks like it will not utilise its full Bonus allocation in the first three months or soon thereafter, SV may give the allocation to another more active AP.

APs will be able to claim the Bonus for any eligible VEU activity that has been properly created, registered and claimed, notwithstanding the balance of its Bonus allocation has gone back into the pool.

5.4 SV will monitor each AP’s progress towards achieving the Bonus allocation based on progress at the VEEC creation phase (see section 6 on Claiming the Bonus below). SV may contact APs to discuss their progress under the Program and this may result in allocations increasing, decreasing, or being revoked.

5.5 Bonus allocations and delivery periods will be subject to regular review having regard to the rate of delivery of activities under the Program.

6. Claiming the Bonus

6.1 Once an AP has registered with SV, its registration will be confirmed, and SV will issue the AP with its Bonus allocation and its account details. The AP may access its account at any time and will use the account to upload relevant information and make a claim for the payment of the Bonus. The process for claiming the Bonus is designed to run in parallel with the ESC’s VEEC creation and registration process.

6.2 When an eligible VEU activity has been completed, the AP will verify the information regarding the installation, including ensuring the following requirements have been met:

  • the activity is an eligible VEU activity (as listed on the Program Activity Schedule)
  • the customer is an eligible small business
  • the customer has received the Bonus as a reduction to the price of the activity. This will need to be shown on the customer invoice
  • the customer has signed the Customer Declaration (docx, 109kB). This must be submitted to SV.

6.3 When the AP submits relevant information to the VEU registry to create VEECs under the VEU program, it will also create the activity in its SV account by uploading the VEEC creation upload form with the additional following information in relation to each eligible VEU activity:

  • Certificate ID numbers for the VEECs created, generated via the VEU registry
  • number of VEECs created
  • relevant multiplier factor applied
  • Bonus calculated.

This information will assist SV to verify and reconcile amounts claimed and amounts paid.

6.4 Once the VEECs have been registered on the VEU registry, the AP will then confirm this by updating the status of the activity in its SV account, and will submit its invoice for the total amount of Bonus claimed for the eligible VEU activities.

6.5 The invoice to SV to claim the Bonus must contain the following information:

  • AP account number
  • AP ABN and bank account details
  • Total VEECs
  • Total Bonus vouchers
  • Total Bonus claimed.

6.6 SV will not require the AP to upload each customer invoice, but may request these invoices from the AP at any time.

6.7 In summary, the evidence required to support payment of the Bonus to the AP is:

Taken together, these documents are referred to as the Required Evidence.

6.8 APs should submit an invoice for completed eligible VEU
activities in the month, and must invoice such activities within 3 months of the registration of the relevant VEECs.

7. Payment procedures

7.1 The Bonus will only be paid to APs accredited by the ESC under the VEU program and who are registered to participate in this Program. An AP must immediately notify SV if it ceases to maintain its accreditation with the ESC. Any Bonus paid to an AP who is not accredited with the ESC must be repaid to SV. The payment of the Bonus is aligned with the creation and registration processes under the VEU program.

7.2 The Bonus will be paid in respect of eligible VEU activities completed in a month and after the submission of the Required Evidence (see section 6.7 above). The invoice is submitted at or following registration of the relevant VEECs. Note that the invoice should be submitted within 3 months of the registration of the relevant VEECs and SV may elect to not pay if not invoiced within this period.

7.3 Within 30 days of receipt of the valid invoice (if not sooner), SV will pay to the AP the total amount of Bonus claimed in that invoice. Note that SV might not be able to make payment where the required information is incomplete, or the invoice is not valid for any reason. SV will contact the AP in these circumstances.

7.4 Payment is on account only and the AP may be required to repay any amount that has been incorrectly paid. This might occur where, for example, it is subsequently found that:

  • the activity or the business was not eligible
  • the activity is deemed to be non-compliant by the ESC after registration as part of an investigation or audit process
  • the Bonus was not passed on to the small business customer
  • the Bonus was incorrectly calculated.

For more provisions about payment see the Terms and Conditions of Participation.

8. Promotion and engagement

8.1 SV will coordinate the publicity and communication needed to promote engagement with the Program. SV will provide APs with promotional material.

8.2 For any promotion of the Program that is outside or inconsistent with the approved materials, APs must obtain SV’s prior written approval.

8.3 SV will engage intermediaries to assist with promotion of the Program and APs will be required to liaise with the intermediaries as necessary. They are a resource available to APs to assist in connecting APs with interested small businesses.

8.4 SV will promote APs’ participation on the SV website.

9. Collection of data and other consents

9.1 It is essential that the AP obtain and submit to SV, as part of the Required Evidence, the Customer Declaration. This Declaration is to be signed by the small business customer to confirm that it is an eligible small business (see sections 3.4 and 3.5).

9.2 The Customer Declaration also permits information sharing between the installer/AP and SV. SV requires information about the installation so that it can manage this Program. This consent is contained in the Customer Declaration.

9.3 The Declaration also confirms that the small business has received the full value of the Bonus as a reduction on the price of the eligible VEU activity.

9.4 As with all government programs, SV wants to measure the impact this Program has and whether it is achieving its objectives. For this reason, the small business customer is also asked to consent to providing SV with energy meter data. Note that if the small business customer elects not to sign this part of the Customer Declaration, it will not render the business ineligible for the Bonus.

9.5 The form of Customer Declaration can be downloaded from our website.

10. Installation requirements

10.1 All installation and upgrade activities under this Program must comply with all relevant laws, standards and codes of practice and comply with established ESC requirements under the VEU program.

10.2 You must at all times meet the obligations and requirements of an Accredited Person as set out in the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007 (Vic) and which have been set out by the ESC in the Obligations and Program Guide for Accredited Persons.

11. Auditing

11.1 APs agree to provide any information reasonably required by SV to manage this Program and agree that SV may undertake spot checks and audits to ensure an AP’s compliance with the requirements of this Program. Note that these audits are separate from and additional to any audit or check that might be undertaken by the ESC under the VEU program.

11.2 SV may seek information from the ESC in respect of your past participation and compliance performance, including details of specific activities claimed under this Program.

11.3 See the Terms and Conditions of Participation for further detail.

12. How to register

If you are eligible and keen to work with us in this Program, please complete the Registration Form which is available on the SV website.

13. Further information

13.1 For further information about the Program, please refer to:

13.2 If you still have questions, please contact us at grants.enquiries@sustainability.vic.gov.au or phone 1300 363 744.

14. Program definitions

The following terms are used in these Guidelines and the Terms and Conditions of Participation:

Accredited Persons or APs means organisations that are accredited by the ESC to create VEECs for a range of activities under the VEU program. APs are also referred to as "accredited providers” in customer-facing materials.

Allocation review means a review that SV undertakes on the progress of an AP’s Bonus allocation delivery.

Bonus means the financial rebate paid to APs under this Program, the benefit of which is to be passed on to small business customers.

Bonus allocation means the capped amount allocated to APs on registration and which is claimed under this Program.

Bonus voucher means the voucher value of $40 ex GST used to calculate the total Bonus value.

Customer Declaration means the form of declaration and authorisation to be signed by the small business customer that:

  • confirms it is an eligible small business
  • confirms the benefit of the Bonus has been provided to the small business
  • authorises the installer and AP to share relevant information with SV
  • consents to the collection of certain energy use data.

This form is available to download from SV’s website.

Delivery period means the period in which an AP’s Bonus allocation is to be applied or utilised.

Eligible VEU activity means the energy-efficiency upgrade or activity that is eligible for the Bonus under this Program.

ESC means the Essential Services Commission established under the Essential Services Commission Act 2001 (Vic) responsible for administering the VEU program.

Intermediaries means organisations such as local governments, Greenhouse Alliances and industry associations engaged by SV to support and promote the Program to small businesses across Victoria.

Multiplier factor means the multiplier applied against activities to incentivise the uptake of particular eligible VEU activities.

Program means the Small Business Energy Saver Program described in these Guidelines.

Program Activity Schedule means the schedule of eligible VEU activities and multiplier factors that determine the level of Bonus available per activity under the Program.

Registration Form means the online form that must be completed to confirm the AP’s participation in the Program.

Required Evidence means the documentation that must be submitted to SV as a precondition for payment of the Bonus. The Required Evidence is set out in section 6.7.

Small business or small business customer means a business that is located in Victoria, has between one and 19 employees and operates from commercial (non-residential) premises, excluding agricultural primary producers, sole traders and micro businesses working from home (see sections 3.4 and 3.5).

SV means Sustainability Victoria, established under the Sustainability Victoria Act 2005 (Vic), responsible for administering the Program.

Terms and Conditions of Participation means the terms and conditions APs are required to agree to when registering to participate in the Program.

VEECs means Victorian energy efficiency certificates which are created for specified energy efficient activities in the VEU program.

VEU means Victorian Energy Upgrades.

VEU program means the Victorian Energy Upgrades program established under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007 (Vic) administered by the ESC.

VEU registry means the online VEU registry maintained by ESC for the VEU program.

15. Key dates

Dates are subject to change.

AP high-level briefing Friday 26 February 2021
Guidelines and T/Cs issued to APs Thursday 4 March 2021
AP registrations open Sunday 7 March 2021
Information session Tuesday 9 March 2021
5
AP registrations close Tuesday 31 August 2021
6
Program completion date Tuesday 31 May 2022