SALT LAKE CITY — A new partnership between Rocky Mountain Power and the Utah Food Bank aims to lessen both hunger and electricity costs by getting rid of Utah’s old refrigerators.
Since 2003, Rocky Mountain Power’s “See Ya Later, Refrigerator” appliance recycling program has offered customers $30 cash incentives to recycle old fridges, which are far less energy-efficient than current models. Now, the electricity company has given the program a charitable twist — recyclers can now choose to donate $30 to the Utah Food Bank instead of pocketing the incentive.
In 2014, the Utah Food Bank provided 31 million meals to hungry families throughout the state. The food bank distributes this food through 134 partner organizations, including soup kitchens, churches and food pantries. According to chief development officer Ginette Bott, the organization plans to use Rocky Mountain Power’s donations to outfit these pantries with new appliances.
“We recognize that we can only distribute food if these pantries have the capacity to hold food. If the pantry doesn’t have a fridge or a freezer, they can’t take produce or frozen products,” Bott said. “We’re earmarking the funds that come through this program so we can turn around and help pantries get fridges and freezers.
"Somebody donates an old fridge, we help the pantry get a new one.”
A refrigerator from 1990 can use up to 1,400 kilowatt-hours in a year, according to Rocky Mountain Power. In contrast, newer models use between 400 and 500 kWh per year. By upgrading to a newer model, most families cut their annual electricity bill by roughly $150.
The 11-year-old program has remained quite popular among Utah consumers, who used it to recycle 10,424 fridges in 2014. Rocky Mountain Power estimates this saved the company over 12 million kilowatt-hours — enough to power 1,366 Utah homes for a year.
In what Utah Food Bank President and CEO Jim Yorgason has previously called “a win-win-win situation,” the program now benefits Rocky Mountain Power, its customers and many hungry Utah families.
Although the option to donate to the food bank is relatively new, both partner organizations are optimistic about its future. Rocky Mountain Power declined to release the dollar amount donated to date, but the Utah Food Bank says it is enough to provide roughly 2,000 meals a week.
“The fight against hunger is a collaborative effort,” Bott said. “We would not be able to do what we do without help. An organization like Rocky Mountain, who’s willing to assist us in that fight, allows us to reach more people and to really take a stand against hunger.”
Readers interested in recycling their refrigerators can call 1-866-899-5539 toll-free or visit rockymountainpower.net to schedule a free refrigerator pickup.
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