POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 25, 2010
Hawaii's refrigerator rebate program wasn't a sellout, but the state has deemed the federally funded stimulus initiative a "huge success" that boosted sales of a major appliance and reduced energy consumption statewide.
The program, which offered $250 rebates on energy-efficient refrigerator purchases from May 24 to June 23, ended with 8,091 sales, or 294 short of a sellout, according to preliminary figures yesterday that might not include all sales on the program's last day.
"It went very well," said Ray Starling, program manager for Hawaii Energy, which managed the program on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. "It did what it was supposed to do."
The goal of the program dubbed "Trade Up for Cool Cash" was to reduce electricity consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuels. Stimulating economic activity with big-ticket consumer purchases also was a goal.
The state estimates that the program will save about 100,000 barrels of oil and 7 million pounds of carbon emissions over the life of the appliances if the old refrigerators, all of which were recycled, were replaced by energy-efficient models using 50 percent less energy.
Federal officials modeled the program after last year's federally funded Cash for Clunkers program, which provided rebates for buying more fuel-efficient automobiles, though it was left up to states to pick which large appliances qualified.
Hawaii officials decided that concentrating the program on refrigerators would provide a big bang for the buck because fridges account for the largest portion of household energy bills after electric water heaters and air conditioners.
Local resident Lois Tao said the rebate helped her decide to replace her roughly 24-year-old appliance with a new one. "I'm looking forward to seeing a smaller energy bill," she said.
Some other states quickly exhausted their appliance rebate funds that were allotted on a per-capita basis. But Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism more than doubled its initial allotment of $1.2 million to $2.5 million by tapping other sources of federal stimulus funds to enhance the fridge rebate program.
Starling said the money left over - about $73,500 - will be redeployed in some way that is consistent with the federal initiative, though exactly how hasn't been determined.