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An out-of-state contractor has abruptly ceased operations, forcing Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP) to suspend their popular appliance recycling programs."We received a note from them that they were having financial difficulties, but nothing to be concerned about," said Nathan Morey, manager of product development at SRP. "And then two days later, we started getting calls from customers saying they were being told by the implementation contractor that they were no longer picking up appliances.
"That was in late November. After recycling nearly 70,000 old refrigerators and freezers over nearly eight years, SRP had to suspend its program."We were on track to have one of our best years," Morey said. "They loved the program. It was easy to do; it was no cost to the customer."Here's how the SRP and APS programs worked: A customer requested an old refrigerator or freezer be picked up.Washington-based JACO Environmental would haul appliances to its Phoenix location where chemicals were extracted and scrap metal was sorted for sale.
The SRP customer would receive a $50 rebate check and the APS customer would receive a $30 check.On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Phoenix Facility Manager Leo Carlos said had to let 12 employees go."I'm the only one left," he said. "Everything happened quick, in a matter of days, actually." Carlos said some employees have found other jobs and he has a couple offers on the table. For now, he said, "We're just trying to sell our assets, sell as much as we can.
""It was a surprise to us all," said Jim Wontor, manager of energy efficiency programs at APS. "And, so that's why we've put into place some pretty quick actions to make sure our customers are well taken care of through this unfortunate circumstance.Both APS and SRP want customers who received rebate checks to avoid depositing them. Instead, the utilities will credit accounts to replace the rebate checks.
On its website, SRP also offers to cover the cost of bank fees for rebate checks that fail to clear.A recorded message at JACO's corporate headquarters alerts customers about the closure.While APS and SRP hope to resume the recycling programs, Morey admits it will be tough to find a replacement contractor who meets federal requirements."There are only a couple other implementation contractors that can do that," he said.
"Unfortunately, they don’t have any infrastructure in Phoenix right now."Customers are being encouraged to contact their municipalities to learn about alternative appliance pick-up or recycling options. The city of Phoenix offers an appliance recycling program for residents for a nominal fee.Updated 12/16/2015 at 1:25 p.m.