For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is starting a $50,000 pilot program that will provide rebates for partial payment of qualifying wood and pellet stoves. The pilot program will start later this year and operate on a first come, first serve basis.
“This program will extend our renewable energy incentives both to a different technology and to a potentially a diverse group of participants including those in rural parts of Maryland,” said Frederick Hoover, Director of Clean Energy at MEA in a letter to Delegate Heather Mizeur. The Maryland delegate was the lead sponsor of the bill HB 996, the Renewable Energy for All Act, which laid the groundwork for this pilot program.
“We are thrilled that the cleanest wood and pellet stoves will finally be part of Maryland’s renewable energy rebate program,” said John Ackerly, President of the Maryland based non-profit, the Alliance for Green Heat. “Throughout the US, rural low and middle-income families struggle to pay their heating bills while generous rebates and tax-incentives flowed to some of our wealthiest citizens to install solar panels. A $3,000 pellet stove can displace as much fossil fuel as a $30,000 array of solar panels,” Ackerly explained.
The Alliance for Green Heat led a coalition of Maryland organizations, businesses and consumers during the two-year push to establish this program. The program was supported by the Maryland Clean Energy Center, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Mid Atlantic Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association and many other groups. Hearth retailers in the state, led by Richard Thomas of Courtland Hardware and Suzanne Turner of Survival Products also campaigned for the program. The coalition was especially trying to help rural Maryland residents who do not have access to natural gas and heat with the most expensive fossil fuels: oil, propane and electricity.
“At a time when millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to pay bills, this is a way to help families affordably heat their homes and switch to a renewable, local energy source,” Ackerly said.
Delegate Heather Mizeur, who represents Maryland District 20 that shares a border with Washington, DC, included this message to her constituents:
“While grant programs help Marylanders purchase solar, wind, and geothermal energy systems, the cost of these systems is out of reach for most families. The Renewable Energy for All Act would incentivize the purchase of biomass systems that generate heat energy via wood and corn pellet products, helping families switch to a less expensive heat source and participate in our clean energy future. … Homeowners with less efficient stoves could also receive a $200 change-out grant to replace their old stove with a more efficient, cleaner burning unit.”
During negotiations with the Maryland Energy Administration HB 996 was amended to focus on a pilot program with MEA funding. The House committee of jurisdiction voted against the amended bill, but MEA has reaffirmed their commitment to undertake the program.