The Fairbanks North Star Borough received a $4 million federal grant to improve local air quality.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Targeted Air Shed Grant, the latest aimed at reducing fine particulate pollution from wood and coal burning.
Borough air quality manager Nick Czarnecki said the grant will fund a borough program to help people convert cleaner burning fuels.
”The big difference with this funding is it’s going to target switching out solid fuel burning appliances such as wood, pellet and coal to cleaner burning alternatives such as fuel oil, natural gas or propane,” Czarnecki said.
Borough residents residing within an EPA defined air quality non-attainment area can also apply for funds to purchase emergency power backup systems to eliminate the need for wood fired heaters, Czarnecki said.
”Such as a battery backup or a generator or solar panels that would provide power to their oil boiler,” Czarnecki said. “If the power goes out, you know, they would still have heat.”
Participating in the borough program brings a deed restriction that bans future installation of solid fuel burning devices at the property.
He said the grant will take a bite out of the estimated 12,500 wood and coal burning stoves and boilers in the non-attainment area.
”We’re projecting that this money can be used to change out around around 476 devices,” Czarnecki said.
Qualifying residents are eligible for between $6,000 and $14,000.
”The $14,000 is specifically for if you remove a hydronic heater and go to electric, natural gas or propane,” Czarnecki said. “The incentive levels are based on the level of emission reductions we get because we want to incentivize those devices that would see the greatest emissions reductions.”
Czarnecki notes that there’s still $1.7 million remaining in an earlier EPA grant funded version of the borough program, which helps residents upgrade to more efficient wood stoves and boilers.