Photo by Raj Deut on Flickr.

A popular feature of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is the rebate program for purchases of energy-efficient appliances.  I was particularly excited about the program when my kitchen suffered serious water damage from Snowmageddon this past January. 

"What a great time to replace our appliances,” I said to my wife and son, “since we can get rebates while responsibly buying more efficient appliances!”   

I checked the website for the DC Department of the Environment, and learned that the funds would be available this summer. Great! We scheduled the renovation for August. 

The summer came. No appliance rebates available yet.  August came.  No rebates yet.  August went.

While all 50 states proceeded to distribute these Stimulus funds in the timely manner intended by Congress, DC residents were still waiting.

DC finally made the funds available on Oct 25, after every state and territory except for Guam.  Our kitchen was renovated, looks great, and is more energy efficient, no thanks to the DC Department of the Environment.

But how many people waited for the funds, which were ultimately released 16 months after the recession officially ended?  Wasn’t that the purpose of the stimulus, and why is was to be “timely, targeted, temporary and transformative,” to help us out of a recession? And how many people just stopped waiting for DC and bought less energy efficient appliances?

When asked why it took longer for DC than every state and territory except for Guam to release stimulus money, the Department of the Environment offered this impenetrable explanation:

In determining and implementing a rebate mechanism that we believed, based on prior experience, would effectively serve District residents, it was necessary to have several other District agencies carefully review and approve this unique contract. Consequently, this prolonged our efforts for an earlier start date as each agency required answers to their specific questions.


Apparently DC has more complex interagency relationships than other states, including California (April), New York (February) and Texas (April).

To date, DC has received 138 applications, of which 19 rebates [equivalent to $1,875 combined] have already been approved and 119 applications [an estimated $7,151] are pending verification.  For more information, visit http://www.dc.state-rebate.com.

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son.  Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.