Days numbered for wood stoves

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

California's Placer County may expand its wood-stove replacement program countywide in an effort to curb air pollution.

The voluntary portion of the proposed campaign will be funded by a $13 million settlement with Sierra Pacific Industries over air quality violations.

While the county has had voluntary incentive programs in the Martis Valley and Colfax, the Placer County Air Pollution Control District is looking to expand those financial incentives, and make the replacement of stoves not certified by the Environmental Protection Agency mandatory in another four years.

"If approved by the board, next year we will offer wood stove replacement incentives for the next four years," said Heather Kuklo, an air quality specialist for the district.

Air Pollution Control staff is fashioning a package of incentives that range from $700-$1,000 to remove or replace a noncertified stove with a low-pollution wood, pellet or gas stove, Kuklo said.

The size of the incentive may vary according to the financial situations of the resident, Kuklo said. If adopted by the district board, Kuklo said those incentives would continue for four years, at which point replacement of the old stoves would become mandatory.

The proposal comes as the town of Truckee's rebate program for removal and replacement of noncertified wood stoves also continues.

Replacement becomes mandatory on May 31, 2008, said town planner Duane Hall.

"Since we started in December 1999, we've probably had around 1,200 stoves removed," Hall said.

Offering $300 for removal or replacement of a noncompliant stove with a new stove, and $500 for replacement with a pellet or gas stove, the town had about 200 households apply for the rebates just this year, Hall said.

Funding started with $300,000 from the merger of Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, and is replenished by fees from new development, he said.

"This is the town's way of assisting property owners before this becomes mandatory," Hall said.

Once the replacement is complete, Hall said the funding could be redirected to other air quality projects, like improving road-sanding practices or the voluntary removal of compliant wood stoves.

As for Placer County's proposal, the owner of a North Shore store that sells stoves welcomed the possible award program.

"I think they really need to do that. There needs to be something in place with incentives," said Cindy Deas, of Lake Tahoe Specialty Stove and Fireplace in Kings Beach. "And it needs to be all of the county, not just parts."

Certified and noncertified stoves are hard to tell apart, but certified stoves usually have a label, and stoves produced since the early '90s should meet the new standards, Deas said. The newer stoves burn more of the particulate matter generated by a wood fire.

The incentives would come from interest on a $13 million lawsuit settlement from Sierra Pacific Industries, a timber operations company and the state's largest private landowner, Kuklo said.

The Associated Press reported in August that the company's sawmills violated state air pollution control regulations, according to a joint investigation by the California Air Resources Board, the California attorney general and Placer County's Air Pollution Control District.

The district board will consider the expanded stove program at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 175 Fulweiler Ave. in Auburn.


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