North Dakota residents looking to upgrade their old refrigerator with a new Energy Star-rated refrigerator can still receive a $150 rebate through the state Commerce Department, but time is running out.
As of Friday, the department had 1,100 rebates $165,000still available out of the original 3,800 rebates.
Funded with stimulus dollars, the $300 million national energy efficiency rebate program was launched March 1 with states launching tailored programs throughout March and April. North Dakota's program, which received $615,000 determined using a population-based formula became available April 6.
"We've been extremely happy with the turnout. We had 800 (rebate applications) within the first 20 minutes on the first day," said Jeff Rotenberger, state energy program manager. "Things have trickled back since then but we've gotten a lot of calls this week with people wondering if we still have rebates available."
Rotenberger said rebate applications have averaged between 70 and 100 per day since the program began nearly two weeks ago.
In Minot, more than 120 rebate applications have been sought.
"The first couple of days we were swamped, but even now we still have people calling and coming in asking about it," said Geri Hawthorne, co-owner of E&T Appliance, one of the four Minot area appliance retailers involved in the program. "We had a truck full of fridges come in on April 9, but those got wiped out so now we have another truck delivery scheduled for (Friday). People love this rebate, they keep asking about washers, dryers and anything with an energy star."
A similar scene occurred at Advantage Appliance.
"It has been insanely busy here for the last week or two," said Bobb Burns, sales associate. "On the first day we started getting calls at 8 a.m. and by 9 a.m. when the program started, we had customers lined up. I didn't get a break all day."
Advantage sold 15 refrigerators that day as a result of the program, he said, and because they ran out of stock, the company has deliveries scheduled throughout the month of May for the energy-efficient refrigerators. In total, the company has sold more than 35 refrigerators due to the rebate program.
"Every day we have people calling or coming in asking questions," Burns said. "It's given us a nice business boost and helped the customers. One-hundred fifty dollars isn't that much these days, but in today's economy, it's still $150."
One local man, Roger, scanned the selection of refrigerators at Advantage one afternoon.
"My daughter signed me up for it. She's been after me for six years to get a new one mine's 30 years old," he said. "I understand why they are doing it, to be more energy efficient and help retailers, but I hate to see good things get destroyed. I'm going to get a new one though to avoid the flak I'd get at home."
For those still cool to the idea, time is running out to decide.
"At the current rate, we anticipate the rebates will last another 10 days to two weeks, but with the media play recently, we could see some spikes and run out sooner," Rotenberger said.
Rebates, issued in the form of $150 Visa debit cards, will be mailed out to approved applicants within eight weeks of receipt of the completed application. For more information or to apply, visit (www.NDEnergyStarRebate.com)