SALT LAKE CITY — Two Salt Lake refineries and the Eccles Foundation are providing money for the Utah Clean Air Partnership to replace 80 wood-burning stoves with cleaner gas-burning appliances.
Chevron and Andeavor, formerly known as Tesoro, each contributed $50,000 to a pool to offer $1,000 incentives to eligible wood stove owners in Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Tooele counties.
The voluntary Show UCAIR Wood Stove Exchange Program will provide discounts in those counties most impacted by wintertime temperature inversions.
"We have some unique challenges that are significant, and one of those challenges is our air quality," said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in Wednesday announcement of the program's kickoff.
"We the people have to take ownership if we are going to have clean air."
Herbert cited wood smoke's "significant" role in particulate emissions, noting that one wood-burning stove emits the equivalent of 90 sport utility vehicles over its lifetime.
Changing from wood to gas eliminates 95 percent of the associated emissions, according to UCAIR.
"In our effort to clean the air, there are no perfect answers, but there are practical solutions," said Thom Carter, UCAIR's executive director.
The $1,000 incentive will be made available to the first 80 eligible households that want to make the switch.
The pool of money is part of emissions-cutting steps state air quality regulators believe are critical to helping reduce fine particulate pollution in the winter.
The press event included comments by top CEOs from the two refineries who spoke to reductions they have made, or are making, in their own pollution footprint.
Mitra Kashanchi, Chevron's general manager for its Salt Lake City refinery, noted the facility had cut emissions by 90 percent since 1990. Andeavor is installing equipment that will also result in signficant reductions of pollutants on top of a 2015 transformation that cut emissions.
Both refineries are transitioning to the cleaner burning so-called "Tier 3" fuels.
The announcement came on the same day the Wasatch Front wood-burning season officially got underway, with the Utah Division of Air Quality urging residents to be mindful of wood-burning rules and the availability of real-time pollution conditions.12 comments on this story
Because of the Wasatch Front's new classification of "serious" nonattainment for meeting the 24-hour federal threshold for winter pollution, the Utah Division of Air Quality increased its fines for violators of the no-burn rule.
First time offenders who violate the rule on mandatory action days will receive a fine of $150, with additional penalties of $299 for subsequent violations.
Salt Lake County, too, has implemented the no-burn rule on voluntary action days.
A phone app, UtahAir, that employs DAQ’s air quality alert system is now available for both Android and iOS users at the Utah Division of Air Quality's website, which also provides data on current conditions.
The mobile app users will receive no-burn alerts.