Through a new project led by Environmental Initiative, Le Sueur County residents will have the chance to reduce air pollution while receiving a new appliance in the process.

The program is titled Project Stove Swap. Those who sign up for the program will have the opportunity to have their aged wood burning appliances replaced with newer models that Environmental Initiative says will save money, reduce air pollution, increase safety and contribute to local economies.

Project Stove Swap

Environmental Initiative’s Project Stove Swap is fighting air pollution through replacing residential and commercial wood-burning stoves, with new subsidized stove. (Photo courtesy of Sara Swenson)

“Environmental Initiative works hard to find positive, accessible solutions to the issues that challenge our environment’s health,” said Bill Droessler, program development officer for Environmental Initiative. “Project Stove Swap is a fantastic example of how proactive community partnerships can meaningfully support our local economies, public health and the environment, while also saving people money and improving air quality.”

Project Stove Swap has $235,000 in funding available for residents, small businesses and nonprofits in Le Sueur, Rice, Scott, Carver, Dakota, Goodhue and Hennepin counties. Depending on the appliances applicants want replaced and their income level, participants can receive financial incentives ranging between $325 to $10,000 to replace their wood and pellet stoves and inserts, hydronic heaters, wood furnaces, gas furnaces and gas stoves and inserts.

Customers that may be eligible for the program can apply for a new stove through vendors partnered with Environmental Initiative which include Fireside Hearth & Home locations in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Eagan, Maple Grove and Roseville. There are currently no partnered vendors in Le Sueur County, but Environmental Initiative is still soliciting businesses in the Metro area.

“At Woodland Stoves and Fireplaces our mission is twofold: to be environmentally responsible and to make fire work in your home,” said Peter Solac, owner of Woodland Stoves & Fireplaces in Minneapolis. “Project Stove Swap helps us all. It makes us aware of the pollution problems caused by old and outdated wood burning equipment. And Project Stove Swap helps you with the cost of changing to a cleaner burning, and more efficient fire.”

Wood Stoves before/after

Wood-burning stoves are a major source of air pollution in Minnesota alongside sources like cars, trucks, construction equipment and residential garbage. During the first run of Project Stove Swap, Environmental Initiative removed air emissions equivalent to more than 985,000 cars from the road. (Photo submitted by Sara Swenson)

Financial incentives for customers are built into the application process. When residents purchase a new stove from a qualified vendor, their financial incentives are included in the purchase at a discount. Qualified-income applicants may have up to the entire cost of their new stove subsidized. Once participants have purchased and installed their new appliance, they will have to give up their old stove.”

“Our overarching goal in this is to reduce air emissions in Minnesota, so we would want the old stove to be destroyed.” said Jon Emerson-Kramer, Program Manager of Clean Air Minnesota at Environmental Initiative. “We don’t want it to end up back in the market and resold. We will get people stoves that will save them on heating costs and help us reduce overall air emissions from the state.”

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the majority of the state’s air pollutants come from smaller, widespread sources that are not highly regulated. These sources include cars, trucks, construction equipment and residential garbage and wood burning and contribute nearly 75% of the air pollution emissions in the state. Approximately 30,000 Minnesota households use a wood burning stove as its primary source of heat.

“By expanding Project Stove Swap, more Minnesotans can have peace of mind that their wood-burning stove is cleaner and safer,” said Dave Benke, director of the Resource Management and Assistance Division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “Voluntary emission reduction efforts – like Project Stove Swap – are a critical part of improving our state’s air quality and reducing the risks of health issues including asthma and heart disease.”

The recent launch of Project Stove Swap in Le Sueur County and surrounding areas is an expansion of the program, which first launched in northern Minnesota and ended in 2019. During the first run of Project Stove Swap, Environmental Initiative replaced 322 appliances and invested $1.9 million through partnerships with 13 small businesses to assist hundreds of households across 17 counties. Project Stove Swap cut heating costs for roughly 30 income-qualified households and removed air emissions equivalent to more than 985,000 cars from the road.

Through Project Stove Swap, Environmental Initiative has invested $1.9 million in local economies by partnering with 13 small businesses to assist hundreds of households across 17 northeastern Minnesota counties in implementing stove upgrades. In addition to reducing air pollution and increasing stove safety, Project Stove Swap also helped cut heating costs for roughly 30 income-qualified households and removed air emissions equivalent to more than 985,000 cars from the road.

“One of the most important parts about this program is it’s really a win-win in that we are able to put money into local economies,” said Emerson-Kramer. “It’s really a place where Environmental Initiative does well, which is bringing public and private entities together.”

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.

Load comments