Tri-City businesses glad Cash for Appliances program ends

By Cathy Kessinger, Herald staff writerNovember 8, 2010 

Washington residents have cashed out the Cash for Appliances program. Rebecca Stillings with the state Department of Commerce said money for the energy conservation rebates ran out Friday.

The program, funded by the federal stimulus bill, provided $5.6 million to the state to give rebates for replacing old refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers and other household appliances with new energy-efficient models. The old appliances then had to be recycled.

About 38,000 people around the state got checks from $75 to $750 for buying Energy Star-rated appliances and properly recycling the old ones, Stillings said.

But all the money had been applied for by Friday, she said.

The owner of one Tri-City business was glad to hear that.

"That's good news for us," said Steve O'Neill, owner of Master's Appliance & Refrigeration in Pasco. "We saw a lot less used appliances coming through our shop."

O'Neill's store sells new and used appliances, and the rebate program meant fewer used appliances available for resale or to salvage for parts.

"It really only helped the people who could afford the newer, high-end ones," O'Neill said. "If you had to buy used, it just drove up the price."

Because the Cash for Appliances program required people to recycle their old appliances, it meant fewer used ones on the market.

O'Neill said he used to bring in a truckload of used appliances a day to refurbish or use as parts to rebuild other machines for resell in the store he's owned for 10 years.

Now, it's down to two or three truckloads a week.

Because the store sells new and used appliances, O'Neill saw both sides of the program.

"What we lost on the used stuff, we didn't make up on the new ones we sold," he said.

At Garrison's Home Appliance Center in Kennewick, owner Henry Garrison said some customers obviously knew about the rebate program.

"I had some people and they only wanted the ones they can get some money back on," he said.

The program wasn't much of a hit at Bunch-Finnigan Appliances in Kennewick. Dan Bunch said most customers weren't aware of the program, and weren't interested when they heard about it.

"The requirements and regulations are too strict, and it's complex," Bunch said.

Bunch said he didn't notice an increase in business during the rebate program.

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