In my brief time at Environmental Initiative, I’ve been impressed and inspired by the work that we’re doing. As the new program manager for Clean Air Minnesota, I get to interact with folks across the state about air quality, economic development, and public health. Part of my job is also Project Stove Swap, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing the stories that come out of this effort.
Let me give you a run-down if you’re new to Project Stove Swap (like I am!). Project Stove Swap provides incentives for participants to replace old, uncertified wood-burning appliances with new, efficient, EPA-approved wood-burning ones. By working with residents, businesses, local governments, Tribal governments and local public health associations, Project Stove Swap was able to replace 320 stoves across 17 counties in Northern Minnesota.
Well, what does that mean? Thanks to the generous support of the project partners and funders — including the Duluth Superior Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, Flint Hills Resources, Minnesota Power, the Northland Foundation and tribal governments — Project Stove Swap leveraged over $1,700,000 in funds to replace the inefficient wood-burning appliances with EPA-approved ones. The effects of these replacements are three-fold:
- Replacing just one older, uncertified wood-burning appliance with a new, efficient appliance has the emissions reduction equivalent of removing 700 cars from the road each year. The 320 stoves replaced through Project Stove Swap have a collective impact of removing 224,000 cars from the road each year.
- By partnering with 13 local businesses and vendors, Project Stove Swap helped stimulate the local economy and support small business owners. For instance, one of the vendors in the project, Mary Lynn Salisbury of Fireplace Lifestyles, had to hire more employees to assist with the influx of business brought by Project Stove Swap.
- Newer stoves produce less pollution, which allows residents to breathe easier, both inside their homes and in their communities.
By offering incentives to residents, Project Stove Swap was able to work with residents that could not afford the cost of a full appliance replacement on their own. Of the replacements, about 10 percent went to lower-income residents and a number were for older residents of Northern Minnesota, which allowed them to remain in their homes for longer.
Personally, I loved talking to Ken, one of our age-qualified participants from Palisade, Minnesota. Here’s what he had to say about his new stove:
“People told me to put in a gas fireplace, but I enjoy burning wood. Me and my dog just go sit on the Laz-E-Boy and watch the fire. He’ll lay just like a baby in the crook of my elbow and his head on my shoulder and fall asleep…I wouldn’t have this stove without Project Stove Swap. I’ll be able to stay in this home longer, down the road. And that is the honest truth. There’s no doubt.”
Project Stove Swap recently finished a two-year effort in Northern Minnesota, and will be expanding into the Metro area in 2019. For more information, sign up for our “clean air” mailings here.