Fairbanks Hoping to Speed Up Wood Stove Change Out Program

The Fairbanks Borough wants to speed up the wood stove change out program before winter. Governor Parnell approved $3 million for the program last month, but Mayor Luke Hopkins says interim borough action is needed for the program aimed at ridding neighborhoods of polluting wood stoves and boilers.

At an Assembly work session last week, Mayor Hopkins put forward an ordinance to spend $1 million in borough money on the program now, to tide it over until state money comes through. Borough air quality specialist Jim Connor said a $1 million federal grant used to start the program a year ago is nearly gone, and the advance will ensure there’s no lull in removal of polluting stoves and boilers.

Connor said $1 million is enough to cover between 200 and 300 program applicants. The borough has removed, replaced or repaired 241 units, mostly wood stoves so far, but surveys indicate there are between 2,000 and 3,000 in neighborhood hot zones, where fine particulate pollution can be acute. The borough currently has enough money to fund an existing 60 hot zone applications, but there are another 180 from people in less densely populated areas.

Connor said program reimbursement ranges from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on the work entailed, and type of appliance.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.