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State To Distribute Federal Stimulus Funds For Efficient Appliances

Last year, it was "Cash for Clunkers," a federal stimulus program to get gas-guzzling cars and trucks off the road. Beginning Thursday at 10 a.m., Massachusetts residents can take advantage of a similar plan aimed at getting rid of inefficient home appliances.

For the first-come, first-serve program, state residents who purchase energy-efficient dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes washers and freezers can apply for a share of $6 million in federal stimulus funds. Rebates of $50 for freezers, $175 for clothes washers, $200 for refrigerators and $250 for dishwashers are available. Consumers must prove the new appliance is replacing an appliance that is currently in use.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles says the state is anticipating many consumers will apply for the funds.

"Other states who have done similar types of programs have had overwhelming response," Bowles said. "We've worked closely with the retailers and several of the stores and we expect a very strong response."

The state has set up a website to accommodate up to 5,000 visitors at once. And a 50-person call center will be in place. Bowles said retailers are also excited about increased foot traffic in their stores.

Beyond the economic impact, Bowles also spoke highly of the program's environmental upside.

"If you've got an old refrigerator from 20 years ago that you've moved down to your basement and you use it to keep steaks frozen, that can be 10 percent of your energy bill," he said. "That translates directly into environmental air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

Residents looking to apply for the rebates can begin by going to the Mass Save website.


Updated: On Thursday, the program website's server crashed, apparently due to high traffic.

This program aired on April 21, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Steve Brown Twitter Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's State House reporter.

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