First page of the Utah archive.

As Utah debates seasonal stove ban, Salt Lake County adopts stricter rules

Posted by Earth Stove on July 10, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,
The proposed state seasonal
ban affects 75% of the Utah
population. 
As Utahns debate a seemingly doomed proposal to ban seasonal stove use,  Utah’s most populous county enacted its own rules banning stove use on both mandatory and voluntary air actions days as of Jan. 1, 2016. In other counties, voluntary air action days continue to be voluntary.

This will impact about half of all wood burning appliances in the non-attainment counties and could contribute significantly to reducing wood smoke.  Salt Lake County has nearly 102,000 wood burning appliances, with fireplaces accounting for a majority of that with 60,000 units, according to EPA figures.  There are nearly 20,000 uncertified wood stoves and about the same number of pellet stoves and certified wood stoves.  

This stove inventory was provided by EPA who use a variety of databases and sources to estimate the deployment of wood burning devices.
The governor’s seasonal ban proposal that would impact 7 counties in and around Salt Lake City is drawing intense and sustained criticism from Utah residents, with only a few people speaking up in support of the ban.  It’s also drawing national attention from the wood stove industry that wants a 2-stage system, where EPA certified stoves could be used in stage 1 and all stove use banned in stage 2.
On the other hand, Salt Lake County, which has a more than a third of the state’s population and nearly half of the population and half the stoves in the Wasatch front non-attainment area, went the opposite direction, including all stoves, certified and uncertified, in both stages of air action days.  “This is a significant measure and with more enforcement could achieve a quarter to a half of the reductions that the Governor’s plan sought,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat.

The issue has become an emotionally charged debate about individual rights vs. government control, striking a nerve within a deeply conservative part of the country.  In the public hearings, many people have testified about not being able to afford any other fuel than wood, and not wanting to be forced to use fossil fuel when they can use a cheaper renewable. 
But for air quality officials, the issue is simply about cleaning up the air and meeting federal air quality goals that are tied to highway funding.  The discussion quickly becomes about what the state can enforce and what it can’t.  The problem is that the state compliance capacity is already overstretched, with little ability to take on wood stoves.
However, that is different in Salt Lake County, which is moving ahead to enact stricter rules.  The County has decided to undertake the investigations of wood burning on mandatory no burn days itself, instead of leaving those to the state, which now only issues the fine.  Typically the initial warning is viewed an education process that leads to compliance, so that while many $ 25 fines have been given, rarely has the maximum of $ 299 been imposed. 
The new Salt Lake County rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, were not a reaction to the governor’s proposal or a rejection of the stove industry’s recommendations.  The County’s process began before the state’s process and ended before the stove industry got involved and helped set up the advocacy group Utahns for Responsible Burning.
According to officials at the Salt Lake Country Health Department, there was virtually no support for exempting EPA certified stoves from the county rule.  Both certified and uncertified stoves can produce excessive smoke, depending on operator behavior and moisture content of wood, with uncertified ones performing worse, on average.  While most EPA certified stoves produce 2 to 4.5 grams of particulates an hour in the lab when they are tested with specially prepared dry wood, they often produce far more in the real world.
The Alliance for Green Heat is urging Utah officials to consider phasing out uncertified stoves, since reducing the number of wood stoves will have the biggest impact.  “It may be that only about half of wood burners are really burning responsibly, whether they own a certified or uncertified stove,” Ackerly said.  “The uncertified stoves made before 1988 are now obsolete and most should not be used in densely populated areas,” Ackerly continued.

The current debate over wood heating comes less than 2 years after the outdoor wood boiler industry fought against Utah regulations that would prevent the installation of wood boilers on the Wasatch Front.  That debate also brought national attention of industry who hired lobbyists in Utah.  The industry effort to keep the market for outdoor boilers open in the non-attainment area was partially based on the now discredited argument that outdoor boilers were cleaner than wood stoves.

That case, like the current debate, involved questions of emissions data from test labs vs. emissions in the real world, and the likelihood that operators would be burning responsibly.


Heated Up!

Wood Heating Trends in Utah

Posted by Earth Stove on July 5, 2015 with No Commentsas , , ,

The proposal by the Governor of Utah to ban the wintertime use of wood and pellet stoves was met with intense opposition from a large majority of Utah residents and the wood stove industry. It also underscored the need for Utah state agencies, the media, and the public to better understand the role of wood heating and its prevalence in the United States. This short paper compares census data of wood heating in Utah compared to the rest of the country. As of 2013, 10,500, or 1.2%, of Utah residents use mainly wood and pellets for their primary heating, far less than the national average of 2.1%, according to the US Census. There are likely to be an additional 40,000 to 50,000 who use it as a secondary heat source, though the US Census does not track secondary heating.  The EPA however estimates that there are about 93,000 wood and pellet stoves in Utah, some of which may not be used at all or only occasionally. Utah is one of the states that buck the national norm, in that far more homes heated with wood and pellets in 1990 compared to 1940. Utah residents gave up wood heating faster than the United States as a whole, with the number of homes mainly heating with wood hitting a low point in 1950, two decades before the rest of the country. But between 1970 and 1990, Utahns embraced wood heating far more aggressively than the rest of the country. The number of Utah homes mainly heating with wood rose from 0.3% in 1970 to 3.2% in 1990, a high point that the state has not hit since then.
The rapid growth of wood and pellets in Utah since 1970 is likely due to many of the same reasons it has grown so quickly elsewhere: both gas and oil prices had been climbing, until gas prices finally dropped in 2008 and oil prices just starting dropping in 2014.  And, the increase of wood and pellet heating may also be linked to an increased desire for household energy security by both conservative and liberal households, but for different reasons.
Median household income remained relatively static in Utah for most of the 2000s before they began falling in 2008 and rising again in 2012, compared to the US where incomes first decreased in 2007 and only started recovering in 2013. Often, more households turn away wood heating as incomes rise and this is likely a factor in Utah since 2012 as well.
Since 2005, the percent of Utahns using wood or pellet as a primary or sole heat source has ranged between 1% and 1.4%, and since 2010 has remained steady at 1.2%, significantly below the national rate of 2.1% that has remained unchanged since 2009. Wood heating peaked in 2009, at the height of the recession and dropped slightly as the economy has picked up.
Wood and pellets are the fastest growing heating fuel in Utah, followed by electricity, as it is the US overall. Wood and pellet heating as a primary heat source had increased nearly 40% in Utah from 2000 to 2013, slightly less than the nation overall. Utah is quite different than national heating trends when it comes to gas and oil. Gas heating has grown 30% in Utah since 2000, yet has only grown by 4% nationally. This increase in gas heating may be tied to slower growth of wood heating in areas with gas lines, while wood heating remains robust in areas without gas lines. Accurate county data could confirm this.  And oil heating has dropped far quicker in Utah than it has in the nation overall, although it has not been a very widespread form of residential heating in Utah.
Utah has the lowest percentage of homes heated primarily with wood in the West.  The Census does not have county level data of wood heating in Utah, but typically rural counties have far more wood heating than more urban ones.  And, lower income counties typically have more primary wood heating and higher income counties have more secondary wood heating. EPA Estimates of Fireplaces, Stoves and Boilers in Utah
The EPA figures, above, estimate nearly a quarter million wood fueled devices in Utah.  A majority of those are fireplaces and studies show that a large percent of fireplaces are never used or only used once a week, unlike stoves which are often used every day.  About 93,000 units are stoves, nearly 16,000 of which are pellet stoves, 48,000 uncertified stoves (most made prior to 1990) and 26,000 are EPA certified stoves, made since 1990.
As this chart shows, 84% of Utah residents heat with gas, one of the highest percentages in the U.S. The second most popular heating fuel is electricity, which heats 11% of Utah homes, followed by propane, which heats 2%.  The fourth most common heating fuel is wood and pellets which account for 1.2% of homes.
Heated Up!

Utah bill HB 396: A Hastily Crafted Bill that Misses the Mark

Posted by Earth Stove on June 29, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

Winter inversions, caused mainly by carsand trucks, often obscure the Utah legislaturein 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 […]

Utah invoice HB 396: A Hastily Crafted Invoice that Misses the Mark

Posted by Earth Stove on March 2, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

Winter inversions, caused mainly by carsand trucks, often obscure the Utah legislaturein 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 […]

Wooden Heating Trends in Utah

Posted by Earth Stove on February 4, 2015 with No Commentsas , , ,

The proposal by the Governor of Utah to ban the wintertime use of wood and pellet stoves was met with intense opposition from a large majority of Utah residents and the wood stove industry. It also underscored the need for Utah state agencies, the media, and the public to better understand the role of wood […]

As Utah debates seasonal stove ban, Salt Lake County adopts stricter guidelines

Posted by Earth Stove on January 23, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

The proposed state seasonalban affects 75% of the Utahpopulation.  As Utahns debate a seemingly doomed proposal to ban seasonal stove use,  Utah’s most populous county enacted its own rules banning stove use on both mandatory and voluntary air actions days as of Jan. 1, 2016. In other counties, voluntary air action days continue to be […]

Invoice to overturn out of doors wood boiler rules fails to pass Utah Legislature

Posted by Earth Stove on March 19, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah – The Republican dominated Utah Senate upheld laws on outside wood boilers by not voting on a invoice that experienced very easily handed the Utah Residence. &nbsp The monthly bill, HB 394, would have overturned restrictions on outside boilers that was handed nearly unanimously by a Property committee and then by […]

An Open Letter to the Utah Legislature in Help of Outdoor Wood Boiler Restrictions

Posted by Earth Stove on March 14, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , ,

The Utah legislature is transferring rapidly to overturn quite reasonable and reasonable laws on out of doors wooden boilers. You should consider introducing your signature to the open up letter under, urging Utah to preserve the laws approved by their Air Top quality Board. Utah’s rules permit the installation of EPA Section 2 outdoor wooden […]

Outside boilers cleaner than wood stoves, boiler lobby tells Utah legislators

Posted by Earth Stove on March 13, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

Legislators go to overturn outside boiler restrictions In a heated combat over no matter whether out of doors boilers ought to be authorized in regions of Utah with inadequate air quality, the outside boiler lobby is swaying lawmakers with information showing that boilers are cleaner than wood stoves. The lead Utah resident pushing for rules […]

Utah Adopts Innovative Outside Boiler Rules

Posted by Earth Stove on February 14, 2013 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

Alliance for Environmentally friendly Warmth, February 11, 2013 – A last moment attempt by a producer to derail new outside boiler rules in Utah unsuccessful. The State’s Air Good quality Board handed progressive and well balanced restrictions that permit the installation of EPA experienced outdoor boilers in rural counties but ban them in populated counties […]