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Clean Air Grants Available To Replace Old Wood Stoves

Duke Energy's headquarters in Charlotte.
Zuri Berry

Residents in Mecklenburg and several western North Carolina counties are being offered up to $10,000 to replace inefficient and polluting wood stoves. Duke Energy is funding the campaign as part of a legal settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Air Act violations. 

The American Lung Association is administering the swap-out for wood stoves built before 1990. So far, about 140 people have taken advantage of the program, just under half of whom meet low-income requirements, said the lung association's Michelle Edwards.  

"And so those are people who probably wouldn't have changed out their old wood stove without this incentive," Edwards said.

Income-qualified residents can get up to $4,500 for new wood stoves, depending on how many floors are in their homes, or up to $10,000 to install a new furnace. Those who don't meet the income limits can get $750 vouchers toward new wood stoves.

Edwards said the program will save money on heating bills and reduce pollution.

"By replacing the old wood-burning appliances will reduce the emissions of hazardous pollutants that pose a significant danger for our families and communities by over 70 percent," she said.

Residents must live in Mecklenburg County or other areas with higher levels of particulate pollution, including Cherokee, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, and Swain counties, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee reservation.

The wood stove swap out is among $4.4 million in environmental programs Duke agreed to fund. It's part of a 2015 settlement with the EPA over illegal modifications at five coal-fired power plants.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.