|Winter inversions, caused mainly by cars
and trucks, often obscure the Utah legislature
in a cloud of pollution that can last days.
A bill was just introduced in the Utah House of Representatives that would mandate certain types of change out programs, set air quality levels that can be used to call no burn days and otherwise undermine the ability of the state to help move toward cleaner burning and cleaner air.
(March 4 update: The bill passed 9-4 in the House committtee. April 1 update: Governor Herbert signed the bill.)
The key to reducing wood smoke in Utah’s populated and often polluted valley surrounding Salt Lake City is a genuine partnership between the states air quality division, industry and other non-profits and stakeholders. Ultimately, solutions are going to require funding, especially if a change out program is involved, which can be expensive. For any significant amount of money to be used for change outs, the Utah governor and air quality division should support the change out, not have HB 396 thrust upon them, which will tie their hands.
Utah Governor Herbert’s proposed seasonal ban was ill conceived and drawn up without sufficient consultation. HB 396 was similarly drawn up without sufficient consultation and will not lead to genuine solutions that can get solid funding.
Like most others, the Alliance did not support the seasonal ban proposed by the Governor, but HB 396 is not the solution. HB 396 was drafted by key stove industry members and reflects the interests of some stove retailers and manufacturers, but does not embrace many solutions which can benefit homeowners who heat with wood and pellets.
In the long lead-up to the EPA’s new rules on wood and pellet stoves and boilers, there have been many claims, predictions and fears. Here is a summary of the key points in the rule that will impact you, the consumer.
The rule becomes law on Friday, May 15, 2015 but don’t expect to see many, if any, changes in your local hearth store until Jan. 1, 2016. Scroll to the bottom to see a timeline of implementation. This rule is an NSPS – a New Source Performance Standard – established by the EPA with input from industry, states and other stakeholders.
Wood stoves: Consumers will barely notice any change until 2020. As of 2016, stoves must not emit more than 4.5 grams an hour of particulates and after May 15, 2020, 2 grams an hour. The biggest near term change is that the really cheap, uncertified stoves will no longer be on the market after Jan. 1, 2016. (These stoves, often made in China, sold for $ 300 – $ 600.)
Pellet stoves: Consumers will not notice much change here either. As of Jan. 1, 2016 all pellet stoves will have to be certified by the EPA. Some models are also likely to get more efficient. In 2020, pellet stoves also have to emit no more than 2 grams an hour. Most pellet stoves already meet the 2020 standard.
Prices: There should be no short term price rises, but in the longer term some manufacturers say their stove prices may go up $ 300 – $ 400 in 2020. Others say their prices won’t rise at all.
Retail “sell-through” period: Retailers have until Dec. 31, 2015 to sell existing stock. Many retailers don’t carry anything that can’t be sold under the new rules anyway. Beware of sales this summer and fall that are trying to unload inefficient stoves and boilers before its unlawful to sell them.
Existing and second hand stoves: Existing stoves are not impacted by these rules, nor is the vibrant second hand market for wood stoves. States can regulate existing and uncertified stoves and Washington and Oregon do not allow anyone to install an uncertified stove off the second hand market. All states allow consumers to purchase and install second hand certified stoves. (How to buy a second-hand EPA certified stove.)
Corn, coal and multi-fuel stoves: Corn and coal stoves are not covered by EPA rules and can continue to be sold without any government emission regulation, so long as they don’t advertise that they can also use wood or pellets. To advertise a multi-fuel stove that can use pellets and corn, the stove has to be certified for pellets and also tested with corn. There is no threshold for emission with corn, but stove has to also be tested with corn and that data must be submitted to the EPA. (More on corn stoves.)
Misleading advertising: Most manufacturers have posted unverified and exaggerated efficiency claims on their brochures and websites. The new rules specify how stove efficiency is to be tested and reported, and companies may start posting verified efficiencies by May 15, 2015. It is unknown if the EPA will crack down on the rampant exaggerated and misleading efficiency claims. Blaze King and Seraph are only companies that provide verified, accurate efficiency numbers of all their stoves to consumers and the EPA. Beware of any stove that advertises over 83% efficiency.
Efficiency: There is no minimum efficiency standard, but the new rule requires efficiency testing and reporting. To date, most companies have treated verified efficiency as confidential records. Some companies are beginning to voluntarily disclose a few efficiency numbers.
New hangtags: The EPA is getting rid of the old hang tags that consumers were accustomed to on the showroom floor. Instead, they are issuing special, voluntary hang tags only for those stoves and boilers that already meet the stricter Step 2 standards (2 grams and hour) or that have been designed and tested with cord wood. This will help consumers more easily identify the cleaner stoves and those that are designed to be used with cordwood – the same type of fuel that consumers use. (Currently, all stoves are tested with 2x4s and 4x4s, which burn very differently than cord wood.)
Carbon monoxide (CO): The new rules do not limit the amount of CO that can be emitted but require that it be tested and reported. As with efficiency, it is still unclear if CO levels from existing stoves will be available before 2020.
Stoves tested with cordwood: The rules set up an alternative, voluntary compliance option for Step 2 emission levels of 2.5 grams an hour for stoves tested with cord wood. This recognizes leaders in the industry who are optimizing their stoves for using cord wood and encourages other manufacturers to follow their example.
Export stoves: US manufacturers can continue to make and sell their existing stoves that do not meet the new EPA standards in other countries. Uncertified stoves with no emission controls or testing can be sold in most of the world. US stove companies are also increasingly exporting to countries that have emission standards, like Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. These stoves have to be labeled as an “export stove. May not be sold or operated within the United States.”
Masonry Heaters: The EPA did not set emission standards for masonry heaters in this rule, but asked the Masonry Heater Association to further develop a testing standard so that they could be included in the next NSPS, which should be in 2023.
Fireplaces: The new rules do not apply to fireplaces, but there is a voluntary method for cleaner fireplaces to be tested and qualified by the EPA. This rule does not even refer to the voluntary program, which may mean there is little interest in including fireplaces in the next NSPS.
Owners manuals: Owners manuals will be updated as of May 15, 2015. Updated manuals will have more detail and must instruct operators how to get optimal performance from the stove or boiler.
Litigation: The deadline to file suit over this rule was May 15, 2015. The main stove and boiler industry association, the HPBA, has indicated it will be filing suit, probably over the 2020 emission standards. Air quality groups are joining that suit to defend it from being weakened or delayed. PFI is suing over the authority of the EPA to regulate pellet fuel. Tulikivi is suing because they want masonry heaters to be a regulated technology. Several other companies are also challenging the EPA in court.
Role of states: Several states have passed resolutions barring state agencies from enforcing this NSPS but the rule clearly states that it does “not impose any requirements on state and local governments.” To date, Missouri, Michigan and Virginia have passed laws barring state enforcement, largely a symbolic gesture. A number of other states will be helping to implement and enforce the NSPS to achieve cleaner air in their states and protect consumers.
Boilers: Like stoves, boilers must meet Step 1 emission limits by May 15. Retailers can still sell older, uncertified and unqualified boilers through Dec. 31, 2015. In 2020, they must meet stricter emission limits. Due to a schism between domestic boiler manufacturers and those importing more advanced European technology, most test labs are not willing to test use one of EPA approved boiler test methods. There in still uncertainty about how one boiler test method, EN3030-5, is treated under the new rule.
Warm air furnaces: Furnaces that heat air, instead of water, got a reprieve from the EPA after intensive advocacy by industry and pressure from Congress. Small ones have to meet Step 1 emission standards by May 15, 2016 and large ones not until May 15, 2017.
Boiler and furnace prices: Unlike stoves, options for consumers will change more, since the boiler furnace industry had not been regulated and many low-cost, low-efficiency units were on the market. Prices – and efficiencies- are likely to rise significantly but operating costs will be significantly lower.
Moisture meters: Conventional uncertified forced air furnaces and then certified ones must come with a free moisture meter. (Some advocates had urged all stoves to come with moisture meters.)
Comments? If you think we have omitted important information in the NSPS for consumers, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The EPA’s BurnWise website
- Position of the main industry association, the HPBA
- EPA Rules Begin Cleaner Chapter for Wood Heating
- Air Quality Groups Intervene in Industry Lawsuit Against EPA
- Talks Yield Some Consensus Between Industry, Enviro Groups
- Independent Stove Manufacture Challenges Stove Industry Positions on NSPS
|2013 Design Challenge
in Wash. DC
The second phase of the project will feature an international stove technology competition to spotlight innovative and high performing pellet stoves and prototypes. The project will culminate in an international gathering at Brookhaven National Lab in New York, where pellet stoves will be tested and the top performers will receive awards. The focus will not just be on low emissions and high efficiency in a test lab setting, but also in the hands of consumers. The application to submit pellet stoves and stove prototypes for the competition will be available later this summer. The competition and workshop is scheduled for the week of April 4, 2016.
|Ben Myren, Tom Butcher and others
in a lab at Brookhaven at the 2014
Wood Stove Design Challenge
This pellet stove challenge marks the third Stove Design Challenge, and the second to take place at Brookhaven. Previous challenges, including the inaugural Wood Stove Design Challengeon the National Mall in 2013, focused on promoting technological innovations that would help ensure wood stoves burn cleaner in the hands of consumers. All the Stove Design Challenges involve stakeholder engagement in testing and assessing stoves, the opportunity to see and understand how testing works, and workshops and roundtables that bring together industry, regulators, air quality groups, non-profits and the media.
|Planning meeting for the 2013 Design
Challenge. Pictured (left to right) Ray
Albrecht, Rod Tinnemore, Mark Knaebe,
John Ackerly, Melissa Bollman, David Agrell,
Ellen Burkhard & Tom Butcher
Funding for the ongoing Wood Stove Design Challenge initiative has been provided by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), Osprey Foundation, the US Forest Service and the Alliance for Green Heat.
Updated: May 31, 2015 On April 15, three air quality groups filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit that a hearth industry group is bringing against the EPA over their new wood stove and boiler regulations. These groups said that their interest lies in “defending the Final Rule against challenges brought by industry groups seeking […]
Rosalie Bianco founded Boulder-based New Earth Pellets using bark beetle-damaged trees to make the pellets. Her company, like others, will have to start filling out this survey in 2016. The US government is poised to begin a monthly survey of pellet producers, much like it conducts similar surveys for coal, oil, gas, and other renewable […]
Rosalie Bianco established Boulder-based mostly New Earth Pellets employing bark beetle-broken trees to make the pellets.  Her organization, like other individuals, will  have to begin filling out this survey in 2016.  The US authorities is poised to get started a regular monthly survey of pellet producers, considerably like it conducts similar surveys for coal, oil, […]
David Chung is adirect attorney for HPBA The US Courtroom of Appeals has consolidated at the very least 3 of the lawsuits in opposition to the EPA’s wooden heater rules collectively into a single lawsuit.  The Courtroom requested these a few parties, the Fireplace, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), the Pellet Fuels Institute and Tulikivi, […]