Molokai residents get new refrigerators

Molokai’s Hui Up! program is now in full swing as families began trading in their older, energy-eating refrigerator units for new, energy-efficient models, Hawaii Energy announced Saturday.

Dozens of families began dropping off their aging refrigerators at Duke Maliu Regional Park in Kaunakakai and received new General Electric units that will help them significantly lower their electric bills.

A total of 177 Energy Star-certified refrigerators will be delivered during the current trade-in opportunity.

Hawaii Energy is supporting the nonprofit Sust’ainable Molokai in implementing the program, with help from Makoa Trucking Service, Servco Home & Appliance Distribution and General Electric.

Burk Gingerich, Hawaii Energy program manager, said that a refrigerator can cost families on Molokai an extra $350 a year in excess utility costs.

“We pay the highest cost per kilowatt hour in the islands. So, it’s really important for people to always remember to conserve energy and be energy efficient,” said Emillia Noordhoek, executive director of Sust’ainable Molokai. “Some people can’t afford to order a refrigerator from a big-box store and have it shipped in, and then they’re forced to either stay with a refrigerator that’s costing them $700 a year to run or they have to go without a refrigerator.”

The community-based Hui Up! program began on Molokai in 2011, when 156 families traded in their old refrigerators. Since then, the program has replaced more than 600 refrigerators for individual families on the island.

Participants are required to sign up in advance, and those who qualify to turn in an old unit are eligible to purchase a new refrigerator for $250. The price includes a rebate from Hawaii Energy.