Updated: Dec. 4, 2019 - More states are starting or changing their stove incentive programs to tighten eligibility, require professional installation, and sometimes, to install an outside air supply. Until recently, incentive programs only required that wood stoves be EPA certified. And even though the EPA certifies many pellet stoves, it did not recommend EPA certified pellet stoves be required in incentive or change-out programs prior to 2015. Change-out programs designed and managed by the EPA and HPBA used to allow virtually any new wood or pellet stove to be installed. The new trend led by states is changing all that.
The Oregon program, which began in 2013, was the most complex in terms of requirements and provided up to a $1,500 tax credit. The highest tax credit awarded was $960, according to Deby Davis of the Oregon Department of Energy. The program was discontinued in 2017.
For larger tax credits, the Oregon program required that stoves have actual measured efficiencies and be listed on the EPA list of certified wood stoves. When the program operated, 100 stoves had provided the EPA with actual efficiencies and those brands got a bump in sales in Oregon. If the manufacturer of the stove had not provided the EPA with an actual measured efficiency, the Oregon tax credit was $144 for non-catalytic stoves, $216 for catalytic and $288 for pellet stoves.
The Maine program had wanted to require actual efficiencies but as of now only requires emission limits only. The emission limits of 3.5 grams per hour for wood stoves and 2.5 for pellet stoves mirror the emission limits in Oregon. Despite a very generous $5,000 rebate for residential boilers, the Maine program provides only $500 per stove.
The Maryland program is slightly stricter on emissions, with an upper threshold of 3.0 for wood and 2.0 for pellet stoves. The program provided a larger rebates for stove with listed efficiencies. The program is unique in that the $500 - $700 rebate is only available to homes that do not have access to natural gas. The program does not require that an uncertified stove be traded in for a new stove. As of Feb. 1, 2020 stoves must have an EPA listed efficiency of 70% to be eligible for the credit.
These programs mark a trend towards stricter eligibility for stoves incentivized with taxpayer funds. But managers of these programs are struggling with some unintended barriers and consequences.
Oregon, Maine and Maryland require professional installation and Oregon and Maine require inclusion of outside air supply. In Oregon, this could have meant a simple $35 vent that provides air within several feet of the stove. All three programs avoid "free riders" to some extent because even if the incentive does not lead to the sale, the state achieves important goals of professional installation, cleaner appliances, outside air where applicable, etc. Free riders is a term used for consumers who get a rebate but who would have made the same purchase regardless of the incentive.
The 2015 EPA stove regulations required all newly certifiedstoves to be tested and listed for efficiency and all stoves have to be retested by May 15, 2020. This will change the efficiency requirments on a numbrer of state incentive programs.