Refrigerator rebates could begin in summer


POSTED: Friday, April 02, 2010

QUESTION: I'm waiting for Hawaii's “;cash for appliances”; program, which offers $250 rebates on purchases of energy-efficient appliances. No details were available initially and we haven't heard anything more. What documents are needed, and to whom would we submit them to get the rebate?

ANSWER: The appliance equivalent of the federally funded “;Cash for Clunkers”; automobile economic stimulus program is not expected to be launched in Hawaii until early summer.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has selected two companies—SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.), also known as Hawaii Energy, and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative—to manage the rebate program.

But the contracts had not yet been signed when we checked.

Signed agreements are expected within the next week, said Derrick Sonoda, director of operations for Hawaii Energy.

That company will be responsible for managing the rebates for the counties of Honolulu, Hawaii and Maui, with Kauai Island Utility doing so for the Garden Isle.

Sonoda noted that the “;Cash for Appliances”; moniker is California's name for the program. The U.S. Department of Energy is allowing each state to set its own parameters for the program and call it whatever it wants.

The name for Hawaii's program has not yet been formalized.

Although details still need to be worked out and will be announced later, the basic facts are that Hawaii has been allotted $1.2 million, from which $250 rebates will be given for the purchase of Energy Star refrigerators only.

In return, consumers have to turn in their old refrigerators for recycling.

Some states are offering rebates for several kinds of energy-saving appliances, so why is Hawaii limiting it only to refrigerators?

Sonoda said that because $1.2 million is “;a limited amount”; considering the number of people in the state, it was believed consumers would get the most bang for the buck by purchasing energy-efficient refrigerators compared with other appliances.

“;We thought this would really help the homeowner get some energy savings because it's a turn-in program,”; Sonoda said. “;So we're hoping that they don't turn in the (refrigerator) that's still nice and new, but the clunker that they have”; sitting in the garage or on the lanai.

Get rid of that second refrigerator “;and you'll actually see a difference in your bill,”; he said.

One requirement of the rebate is that the old refrigerator has to be taken to a recycler—it can't be sold. In that way, “;we're doing something good for the environmental all the way around,”; Sonoda said.

QUESTION: We live in Waialua and do not have home mail delivery. We have post office boxes. Our census form was not delivered to us because it had our house/street address on the envelope, so it was sent back as “;No Receptacle.”; The Waialua Post Office has been helpful, but I'm still at a dead end. Is there a place like the library or post office where we could pick up a form?

ANSWER: Call the Waianae Census Bureau office at 697-0900 and you will be referred to a site near your home where you can pick up a form, said Winnie Wilson, manager of the U.S. Census Bureau office in Honolulu.

You can also call the Honolulu office at 535-0900.