SECCCA will be providing expert advice in the Small Business Energy Saver (SBES) Program to small businesses around Victoria’s south east, as part of Sustainability Victoria’s initiative (on behalf of the Victorian Government).

SECCCA is a climate change alliance working with local councils in the south-east region. The Small Business Energy Saver Program is a (council supported initiative/energy saving initiative/energy upgrade initiative) helping small businesses upgrade to energy efficient equipment and obtain long-term savings.

This program will help small businesses economic recovery from COVID-19 hardships via the Victoria Energy Upgrades (VEU) of activities such as:

– Replacing inefficient electric hot water systems.

– Replacing inefficient gas hot water systems.

– Upgrading to efficient room reverse cycle air-conditioners.

– Installing energy-efficient refrigerator display cabinets.

– Installing energy-efficient fridges and freezers.

Rebates available may be able to cover up to 85-95% of the cost of the upgrade providing incentive for energy efficient upgrades.

Sustainability Victoria is overseeing the roll out of the program and wishes to target businesses most impacted by ongoing COVID restrictions including: 

  • Hospitality and retail 
  • Accommodation services 
  • Arts and recreation 
  • Sporting clubs and facilities 
  • Manufacturing and warehousing businesses 
  • Professional services (ie. allied health) 

 However, any business meeting the below requirements is eligible: 

  • A business with 1 – 19 FTE (full-time equivalent) employees 
  • Operating from a commercial (non-residential) premise*
  • Both owned and leased 

*Note: This program is not available for primary producers in agriculture. 

 What are the benefit to businesses? 

  • Up to 85% of the upfront cost to upgrade is subsidised via a rebate system 
  • Maximum $2,000* per business (on average $1,000)
  • Long-term reduction in energy costs 
  • Low upfront costs
  • Improving the business’ climate resilience 
  • Connecting local traders and installers to businesses within their area 

*The subsidised amount differs between businesses and activities.   

This program aims to aid Victoria’s economic recovery in two ways:

  1. To assist SBs with the cost of implementing Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEUs) 
  2. To support local trade and contracting businesses who complete the upgrades 

Where to start 

  • Read more on Funding Finder and apply now to take advantage of these fantastic discounts! 
  • Or if you need help to get started, please email us at [email protected] or phone Victoria (0493 200 719 who will be able to help you through the entire process from start to finish
  • Alternatively, you can get in touch with a SECCCA engagement officer by filling out their Google Form  

A brief overview of the process: 

  1. Contact SECCCA
  2. A short phone conversation to walk the small business through the process and determine minimum eligibility 
  3. Fill out a one-page consent form and provide photos of your current equipment 
  4. SECCCA to forward your information onto an Accredited Provider (who will do the install and apply the discount) 
  5. SECCCA officer to follow up on progress with AP and troubleshoot any issues along the way 

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 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

 How much money do I have to pay? 

The gap cost amount (the money that the small business contributes) depends between each product and business – the AP (ie. installer) will give you a precise quote. Some upgrades may be free, whilst others will cost between $150 and $1,000 out of pocket. The rebate (ie. the discount) will be added by the AP upon installation and the business only pays the gap cost. 

 Can I get more than one appliance upgraded? 

 No – this program allows for up to $2,000 per business (per ABN) towards one equipment upgrade. Your business may be eligible for other general VEU upgrades (such as LED light replacements), but the installers will inform you of this.  

 What does full-time equivalent (FTE) mean? 

 FTE refers to how many equivalent full-time hours (38 hours per week) are worked by all of your business’ employees. To work this out, please calculate how many average hours are worked per week by all your employees (outside of lockdown) and divide it by 38 – this will give you the FTE. This calculation includes part time and casual staff and does not include the hours worked by the owner.  For full-time employees, please use 38 hours per week; for part-time employees, please use their contracted hours; and for casual employees, please use their average hours worked per week. 

 Are residential-based, sole traders eligible? 

 No – this program is purely focused on upgrades in the commercial, business setting, as residential upgrades are already available under the VEU. As long as you are a registered business with an ABN, work out of a commercial premises and have 1 FTE employee (including yourself) – you are eligible for this program. 

 What is an AP? 

 An AP is the Accredited Provider – also referred to as the ‘installer’, is the business that completes the equipment upgrades and delivers the financial incentives. They generate the VEECs (Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates) which are the emission savings that allow the rebate/discount to be applied to the upgrade. The APs complete all the paperwork for each upgrade and organise installation with their employees or contractors. 

 Can I use my own preferred tradesperson? 

 Yes. Chloe and Victoria are happy to have you use your preferred electrician or plumber for the installation, however they will have to be vetted by RETA (Renewable Energy Traders Australia) to ensure they can comply with the installation requirements, they possess the proper licenses etc. RETA will do the paperwork and approve the VEECs after installation – meaning the small business will have to pay the full upfront cost to your tradesperson (unless your tradesperson is willing to ‘wear’ that cost for you until the rebate comes through). Chloe and Victoria can talk you through this process in more depth if you’d like to pursue this route. If not, we are well connected with high quality APs who will look after the entire process.  

What is the VEU? 

The VEU refers to the Victorian Energy Upgrades. This is the wider State government program focused on providing households (and now businesses) discounted energy efficient products and services. This is to both reduce the cost of energy as well reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. A well know example is the free LED lighting upgrades throughout residentials. This program is a pilot project running from July 2021 to June 2022 that provides a bonus incentive for small businesses to upgrade inefficient equipment. The State government is now moving their focus to commercial upgrades due to the success of the residential upgrades. 

Can installations be completed during metro-Melbourne’s lockdown? 

 Possibly – this depends on the AP, what you’re wanting to have installed and if your business is open or not. Chloe and Victoria are asking all businesses to send (via email) photos of their electrical switchboard and the equipment you are interested in upgrading, as all APs can confirm the eligibility of the upgrade under the program and provide a preliminary quote remotely. Some APs are conducting installs if social distancing can be adhered to (ie. no one is working from your business right now), whilst others are only completing emergency works. The industry will begin returning to work in all setting from late October to early November – based on the Victorian government’s current COVID Roadmap.  

Who is SECCCA? 

SECCCA stands for the South-East Councils Climate Change Alliance and is a local government intermediary that facilitates climate change programs across the south-east region. We support our nine member Councils and their communities to respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change. SECCCA represents the City of Port Phillip, Bayside City Council, the City of Kingston, Frankston City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, City of Casey, City of Greater Dandenong, Cardinia Shire Council and the Bass Coast Shire Council.