Tuesday, February 16, 2010

California leads again in progressive, sometimes strange, renewable energy incentives

In some ways, the Alliance for Green Heat thinks the incentive program in the Central Valley around Fresno, CA, could be a model for wood stove change-outs in areas with particularly bad air quality non-attainment problems. We like to see larger incentives for pellet stoves than for wood stoves and they have a very generous incentive for low-income families of $1,500 to trade in old wood stoves for a new wood or pellet stove.

What baffles us is why California hasn't adopted stricter wood and pellet stove emissions standards to start with. In California, unlike Washington and Oregon, you can still buy and install a pellet stove that emits 4 grams of particulates an hour, or a EPA certified wood stove that emits 6 or 7 grams an hour. If counties are going to sink funds into change-out programs, they should require that the new stoves meet stricter emission standards of 4.5 for wood stoves and 2.5 for pellet stoves. In fact, the entire state should have adopted these standards more than a decade ago, and there wouldn't be the air quality problems from wood appliances that they have today.

The program also offers a $500 incentive to switch from wood or pellets to a gas appliance. We feel that an ultra-low emission pellet stove should not receive same trade-in incentive as an old, polluting wood stove. We realize that in a few places in the country air quality is so bad that it may be justifiable to urge people to switch back to a cleaner fossil fuel. First, the central valley or all of California should adopt stricter emission standards for wood and pellet stoves, especially for those bought with incentive funds. More on this topic.

Central Valley’s annual wood-stove change-out begins

January 19, 2010 12:09pm

• Incentives offered for cleaner units
• ‘A valuable incentive to make one change in their daily lives to help improve air quality’

For the fourth year, residents of the San Joaquin Valley can tap a financial incentive to swap their older wood stove for a cleaner-burning one.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District sponsors the program.
“We’re pleased to once again offer Valley residents a valuable incentive to make one change in their daily lives to help improve air quality,” says Samir Sheikh, director of the district’s Emission Reduction Incentive Program.
The 2010 program begins Jan. 19 and continues until all funding is exhausted.
Residential wood burning is a major source of wintertime air pollution in the Valley and wood-burning emissions cause serious health problems, the district says.
The program offers varying incentive amounts, depending on the type of device being changed out and purchased:
• $100 to upgrade a non-certified wood-burning device to a an EPA Phase II-certified wood-burning device;
• $250 to upgrade a wood-burning device to a pellet stove;
• $500 to upgrade a wood-burning (including pellet stove) device to gas-burning device; and
• $1,500 to low-income residents for the purchase of any of the above devices (low-income status as verified by tax returns, pay stubs, unemployment or disability checks, or bank statements submitted with applications).
Eligible households must be located in the eight-county air basin.
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