The Golden Carrot Super Efficient Refrigerator Program

The SERP program allowed us to accelerate the development process and bring environmentally superior products to the market sooner.. which will have all the latest technological advances of a super-efficient product and all of the quality, style, and convenience consumers expect form a Whirlpool appliance.

Jeff Fettig, Vice President of Group Marketing and Sales, Whirlpool North American Appliance Group

In a "Golden Carrot" program, utilities offer financial incentives to manufacturers to make major advances in energy efficiency and product performance. The method: pooled utility rebates, which together have more impact on the market than individual, uncoordinated rebates that are unlikely to affect product development. IN the first Golden Carrot, 24 utilities pooled $30 million in the Super Efficient Refrigerator Program (SERP). SERP then held a contest - the manufacturer who could build the most efficient CFC-free refrigerator at the lowest cost would get guaranteed rebates for the pool to offset the incremental product cost. Consumers get a more affordable and environmentally sound refrigerator. Earlier this year SERP announced that the winner, Whirlpool Corporation, will deliver energy-efficient refrigerators beginning in 1994. The runner-up Frigidaire, also announced it would soon introduce super-efficient models.

The idea was conceived in 1990 during discussions between Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the nations' largest investor-owned utility, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on how utilities could get the maximum social benefits form their conservation programs. Later that year, EPA hosted a meeting with PG&E, NRDC, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the Washington State Energy Office to organize the first Golden Carrot. The program required an unprecedented effort to recruit a large number of utilities to pool tens of millions of dollars. EPA played a leadership role, primarily by:

As utility participation approached a critical mass, they were increasingly willing and able to design, market, and implement the program. EPA ultimately stepped back and the private sector - utilities and manufacturers - did the job. With very modest taxpayer money, EPA and its partners leveraged a much larger private sector investment in energy efficiency and pollution prevention. The approach is an important model for Federal leadership in promoting advance technologies.