Funds for frigidaires getting tweaked

Topic: Beltway Outsider, Dept. of Energy, Environment, Government in My Backyard (GIMBY)
By Marc Albert | 14. May 2010
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Remember the headlines a few weeks ago when the Department of Energy’s appliance efficiency rebate plan ran out of money almost as soon as it was launched? Hoping to avoid the experience in many other states, California officials (each state administers the rebates differently), raised the bar, restricting the rebates to only the most energy efficient major appliances. They also required documentation that an old fridge, air conditioner, washer or dryer was properly recycled.

As Kathleen Pender writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, the requirements perhaps went too far. Several of the handful of models qualifying for the rebates were phased out by manufacturers, while others have vanished from the supply chain after consumers in other states whose programs started earlier snapped them all up.

Officials are dismayed that they’ve only distributed 17 percent of the funds allotted for the program nationally, and that the current program is apparently too cumbersome. Officials shouldn’t overcompensate while trying to find the sweet spot. While the program’s main goal is stimulating the manufacture of big-ticket, energy-efficient durables, reducing household energy use will put cash in consumers’ pockets over time, and save taxpayers a bundle on financing new power plants and transmission lines.

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