Appliance Rebate Program Planned in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Oklahomans will soon be able to receive money back for buying certain appliances while helping the environment.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce recently submitted a plan to the U.S. Department of Energy outlining the state's Energy Star Appliance Rebate program. As part of the Americans Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Oklahoma received $3.5 million in federal funding to promote energy-saving appliances.

By buying specific Energy Star appliances, consumers will be eligible to receive rebates ranging from $50 to $250.

"If someone has an appliance that is five or six years old, it's probably not as efficient as it should be and it's probably not conserving the kind of energy it could conserve and it's probably adverse on their utility bills," said Vaughn Clark, director of the Commerce Department's Community Development. "So they could do two things. They could help the environment by buying an Energy Star appliance and lower utility bills."

The U.S. Department of Energy must still approve the state Commerce Department's plan, which will be managed by a third-party administrator. Under the proposed plan, the following appliances will be eligible for rebates: clothes washers, refrigerators, room air conditioners, water heaters, central air conditioners, gas furnaces and ground source heat pumps. A request for proposals for third-party administrators will soon be released and an administrator will be chosen soon after, based on a specific rating system that considers criteria like rebate turnaround and retailer partnerships, Clark said.

The program will go into effect by March 1, and last as long as money is available.

"Our plan is to have coupons available at local retailers which they would then be able to mail in to the third-party administer in order to get the rebate," Clark said of the current plan.

He said there are major Energy Star partners where people will be able to purchase the appliances, but commerce officials hope to eventually extend the reach of the program.

"It is our hope to reach out to any appliance dealer, especially in rural parts of Oklahoma, to make these coupons available to the small mom-and-pop shop, to the small retailer so they can also take advantage," Clark said. …