Appliance rebates gone after one dayby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — An appliance rebate program in Minnesota, funded by $5 million in federal stimulus money, has closed just 24 hours after it began.
More than 25,000 rebate reservations were claimed by 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which is administering the program. In addition, the waiting lists for appliance rebates have 10,000 names on them.
Many people had a difficult time getting the program's Web site to work Monday, the first day of the program, and others had to call dozens of times to get through on the phone.
The Commerce Department hired a vendor, Helgeson Enterprises, to handle the reservation process. The company said in a statement Monday that it was overwhelmed by the response to the program. It also cited suspicious activity on its Web site for the delays.
A message left with a company official to find out more about the problems was not immediately returned.
The rebate program allows old appliances to be replaced with a qualified Energy Star model purchased from a Minnesota retailer.
Commerce Department officials said Energy Star appliances can save up to $75 annually in energy costs.
The appliance rebate program is funded with more than $5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program is expected to save more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours in energy.