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IID adds to public benefits program

January 11, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

With the Imperial Irrigation District set to increase the cost of power as early as February, district officials are looking to the public benefits program to help people cope with such costs.

The program was initiated as part of the deregulation of the power industry. The program requires a portion of power bills go toward public assistance.

IID has some $5 million to aid the public this year.

On Tuesday the IID board approved a new element of the public benefits program — refrigerator rebates.

The district has set aside $500,000 to aid the public in obtaining energy-efficient refrigerators throughout the year.

Phil Falkenstein, energy and marketing specialist leader for IID, said there are three aspects to the refrigerator program.

First, IID will offer a 20-percent rebate off the base price to those who purchase an energy star-rated refrigerator. The district — using a contracted recycling firm — would then remove the old non-energy star-rated refrigerator from the household. The maximum IID would pay on the rebate is $200.


The second part of the program calls for IID to provide an energy-efficient refrigerator to those in IID's domestic energy-assistance program.

Falkenstein said that part of the program is limited in that there are 500 refrigerators available and they are provided on a first-come, first- served basis.

He said the energy-efficient refrigerator would be exchanged for a household's operational refrigerator at no cost to those who qualify.

The final aspect of the program involves IID providing a $40 incentive check to those who contact the district to remove a secondary operational refrigerator.

Falkenstein said it could take 45 to 60 days to implement the program, although he said it could start sooner.

He said once the program is ready, IID will make available a toll-free telephone number people can call to take part in the program.

He said the public would be notified of the number through advertisements and possibly inserts with power bills.

However, he said anyone with questions about the program now can contact IID at 339-9032.

The refrigerator program is just one element of the public benefits program.

IID offers help with power bills, a weatherization program and a rebate program to help customers cover the cost of having their air conditioners serviced.

Recent legislation extended the public benefits program for another 10 years. The program had been set to end in 2002.

IID officials said it is important that people are made aware of the program, in particular in light of the rising cost of energy.

Directors have expressed concern that some low-income Imperial Valley residents will opt not to run their air conditioners during the summer due to rising costs.

Directors said they plan to continue to try to find ways to lessen power bills for those who cannot afford such costs.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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