Madison, WI – Karen Peterson Lienau feels like she has two jobs. She owns and directs Lifecycle Kids Child Care and Enrichment Center out of a temporary location while she is tries to rebuild the permanent building that suffered severe flooding damage in the storms that devastated southern Wisconsin in late August.
It is a challenge, but she received an unexpected boost to her efforts last week.
“I was at our temporary office and two people knocked on the door,” Karen said, “…they said they [were] with Focus on Energy and I said, ‘Okay, What’s that?’ because I had no idea.”
Focus on Energy hopes to help small business owners like Karen in rural areas through its limited-time Community Small Business Offering (CSBO) Flood Relief campaign. Focus on Energy, with help from its partner utilities that fund the program, identified 18 counties impacted by the August flooding and then targeted rural zip codes in those counties, including the Mazomanie area.
Qualified small businesses can receive up to double the normal Small Business Program incentives when they make energy-efficient upgrades to things like lighting, heating and cooling systems, and commercial kitchen equipment. The monetary incentives help offset the up-front costs of the energy-efficient upgrades, which will save the business owners money on their energy bills for years to come.
“I walked down to the center with them and showed them around, and we talked about the kitchen that we’re adding, some of the pipe work, some new HVAC. And they explained all the different ways throughout the entire child care center where we would be able to save money and do things to improve the environment,” Karen said.
The person who knocked on Karen’s door last week is an Energy Advisor with Focus on Energy. They have been visiting some of the selected communities in-person to help spread the word about the bonus incentives, which are not limited to those who suffered flooding damage. All qualified small businesses in the identified zip codes are eligible. Those interested can see where the bonus incentives are offered and which companies qualify as a small business at focusonenergy.com/bizfloodrelief.
“It’s something that I had no idea [about],” Karen said. “It was great because I feel like it’s a benefit that just fell into my lap because they came by and wanted to help out.”
Lifecycle Kids had between eight inches and two feet of water across its facility after the August flooding in southern Wisconsin. The building, a vacant church the childcare center rents, is still unusable. The floors that had to be ripped out have yet to be replaced. Wet drywall had to be removed from the bottom half of the walls and bare studs can still be seen across much of the facility.
But, while she waits for modifications – adding a classroom, commercial kitchen and potty-training bathroom – to be approved, Karen now knows energy-efficient options are financially within reach thanks to that unexpected visit from the Energy Advisor.
“I don’t always have time to look into all the options that are out there. So to have somebody come and say, ‘Hey, we have this knowledge. You don’t have to figure it out yourself. Let us help you,’ is great.”
About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.