Through the EmPOWER Maryland Challenge, MEA will provide competitive grant awards to implement and showcase ambitious upgrades to commercial and industrial buildings that reduce electricity usage by an estimated 20 percent or more. Applicants are encouraged to review the Program Overview covered in the early November webinars.


What is the program?

What are the project requirements?

How do I apply?

To help achieve a 20% electricity savings in privately owned commercial and industrial buildings, MEA will provide grant awards to cover up to 50% of the project costs after all other incentives have been applied.

For more information, read our

Program Description.

The energy efficiency measures should enable a 20% electricity usage reduction in the buildings or areas where they are installed.

The energy efficiency measures must be installed before May 1, 2015.

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

The application period is now closed. The materials below are for illustrative purposes only.

(Right-click and 'Save Link As' to download)

Download the Commercial-Industrial Grant Program Application and Addendum (for multiple buildings)

If you have questions not answered in the FAQ, complete the Application Assistance Request Form.

Goals and Incentives

Related programs

As part of the EmPOWER Maryland Challenge, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) will provide competitive grant awards to implement and showcase ambitious upgrades to privately owned commercial and industrial buildings that reduce electricity usage by an estimated 20 percent or more. To encourage the deepest possible energy savings, awards will cover up to 50% of project costs after other incentives have been applied. Currently, up to $4.5 million in funding is available for awards ranging from $20,000 to $500,000. All monies must be encumbered via a fully executed grant agreement between MEA and successful applicants by May 2014.

MEA will use the following formula to calculate grant awards:

(Project installed cost – EmPOWER utility and other incentives) x 50% =
MEA grant = business’s out-of-pocket cost

If, for example, the installed cost of a project is $50,000, and the total incentives are $10,000, the MEA award will be $20,000 and the owner’s out-of-pocket costs will also be $20,000.

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Project Requirements

  • The energy efficiency measures should be estimated to achieve 20% electricity use reduction for a whole building or treated space within a building. (Examples of such “treated spaces” include offices or retail establishments within a larger building.)
  • Specifications for individual electricity efficiency measures must exceed the minimum energy code requirements for those measures.
  • Projects must be comprised of eligible electricity efficiency measures, which include (but are not limited to):
    • Building insulation and envelope improvements
    • Lighting
    • Controls
    • Motors and variable frequency drives
    • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades
    • Refrigeration
    • Retro- or re-commissioning
    • Energy data analytics
  • Grantees who are eligible must apply for funding from EmPOWER energy savings programs offered through Maryland utilities.
  • Grantees must cover 50% of project costs after utility and other incentives have been applied.
  • The energy efficiency measures must be installed before May 1, 2015.
  • Grantees are expected to work with MEA to showcase successful projects in case studies shared through newsletters, web sites, videos, or other educational vehicles.
  • Authorized representatives of MEA must be allowed sufficient access to the building to conduct an energy audit, measure and verify savings, and document the project as a case study.
  • The facility must be located in the state of Maryland, and all upgrades must stay in Maryland in the building in which they were installed.
  • The equipment may not be purchased or installed prior to the signed grant agreement.
  • Any grant payment is contingent upon inspection of the Project and compliance with all program requirements, terms and conditions.
  • An authorized signatory for the Applicant/Business will need to sign the application.
  • The program terms & conditions are subject to change.


Any privately owned commercial or non-profit enterprise may apply for upgrades to buildings owned by the enterprise that are located in Maryland. Examples include but are not limited to senior living facilities, hotels, supermarkets, office buildings, retail facilities, office areas associated with industrial plants, and restaurants. This program was not developed for public and municipally owned buildings. See the State and Local tab of our website..

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How to Apply

The window for applications will open November 1, 2013 and close January 15, 2014. Applicants must attach all required documentation, including a minimum of 12 months of utility bills, an energy audit (if available), a bid for the installed cost of the proposed measures provided by a contractor qualified to perform the work, a monthly project plan, and a current Certificate of Status provided by the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation indicating that the entity is in good standing. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

MEA will provide webinars, a dedicated web site and limited phone support to assist with application completion. Applicants in need of assistance with the application are strongly encouraged to contact MEA early in the application window to ensure adequate time to work through any questions. Applications submitted by December 18, 2013, will receive a preliminary review for completeness.

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Program Timeline

The following are key dates in the program timeline:

  • November 1, 2013: The program opens for applications.
  • January 15, 2014: The application period closes.
  • March 2014: Grant decisions are announced.
  • May 2014: Grant agreements are signed.
  • May 1, 2015: All energy efficiency measures are installed.
  • May 31, 2015: Final invoices due to MEA.

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Evaluation Criteria

Applications meeting the program requirements will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Percentage of electricity savings (our goal is an estimated 20% savings per building)
  • Percentage of matching or leveraged funds
  • Demonstration of best practices or innovative technology
  • Project feasibility (bid must show that project can be completed by May 2015)
  • Cost-effectiveness (simple payback period is less than the average useful life of installed measures)
  • Completeness and accuracy of energy savings and cost estimates (see additional guidelines below)

MEA also reserves the right to select applications that allow for a broad diversity in the project portfolio to cover a range of building and industry types, energy conservation measures, and Maryland’s geographic regions.

Guidelines for Quantifying Energy Savings. While full energy audits are desirable, any applicant may be successful provided the application includes the minimum information outlined below.

  • A description of the existing system or equipment that will be modified. Includes a basic description of the facility and its function, square feet of the building(s), type and model of equipment to be replaced, location of affected equipment, and typical facility operating hours.
  • A description of the proposed project. Includes a contractor’s bid or bids for installed cost of measures, and, if available, manufacturer data sheets or performance ratings. Depending on the measure, some important data to capture on the application will be:
    • The efficiency rating of the measures you wish to replace
    • The efficiency rating of the measures you are proposing
    • Operational hours – both before and after the proposed upgrade
    • Number and type of units that are being replaced, and the number and type of upgraded units
  • Status of leveraged funds. Include information about the status of your application for commercial or industrial efficiency incentives offered by your utility as well as any non-utility funding sources that you intend to leverage for this project.
  • Detailed project cost and energy savings estimates. Complete a table in your application similar to the one below that quantifies electricity savings for the conservation measures that you propose to install. Project costs must include both material and labor. Your application must show your math and assumptions.


Energy Efficiency
Measure & Location

Projected Electric Savings (kWh/year)

Estimated Energy Cost Savings ($/year)

Estimated Installed Measure Cost ($)


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Grant Approval Process

The EmPOWER Maryland Challenge/Commercial-Industrial Grant Program team will rank applications and make one of four determinations for your project:

  • Issue a Grant Commitment Letter.
  • Require additional information.
  • Place the project on a waiting list in the event the program is fully subscribed and additional funding becomes available, or
  • Reject the application.

The MEA will send a letter to all applicants letting them know their project’s selection status. If your application is selected for a grant, MEA will provide a commitment letter that:

  • Explains the next steps in verifying energy savings;
  • May require you to solicit additional bids for your project; and
  • Provides instructions about meeting various preliminary project requirements within a prescribed time window.

After the applicant satisfies the preliminary project requirements, MEA shall provide a Grant Agreement for signature. All grant awards are expressly contingent upon acceptance of all Program Terms and Conditions, execution of the Grant Agreement, and completion of the project in accordance with all Program requirements, Terms, and Conditions.

Draft Grant Agreement

For questions, please email Nichele Parker at

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