The Idaho DEQ has made progress in addressing the air quality in St. Maries.

The Idaho DEQ’s wood stove change-out program has been an ongoing project this year. So far the program has been able to change-out seven stoves for low income residents in the area.

IDEQ Air Quality Manager of the Coeur d’Alene Region, Shawn Sweetapple, said more applications being processed.

He said that being able to do a couple of the change-outs has given the IDEQ a better idea how far their funding will take them.

“Now that we’ve had some installations completed we are getting a better idea of how far the $70,000 dollars of funding we started with will go,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “Most of the jobs have required chimney work as we expected.”

He said that most of the jobs have an average cost of $4,000 per household.

“The St Maries Air-shed Advisory Committee decided to set a cap of $4,000 dollars per installation at the beginning of the program,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “The number was reached after looking at what stove replacements in the Silver Valley and Cache Valley change-out programs have cost and making the assumption that they would be similar in St. Maries.”

Mr. Sweetapple said that the goal of the program was to make sure to have little to no cost for the low income households receiving the change-outs. He said that so far that is working out for the program.

“So the goal of having little to no cost for the low income households is working out,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “The (St. Maries Air-Shed Advisory) committee felt that these folks would be the least likely to be able to afford a new stove and the most likely to have older, less efficient stoves. We should be able to accomplish 15 to 16 replacements under this budget.”

As far as funding the project down the road, Mr. Sweetapple said that they should have no problem spending their $70,000 budget but they are planning to look into federal grants to fund the next round of replacements. He said so far the search for other grants is ongoing.

“Going forward we are looking into federal grants, but have not found any that apply to our program yet,” Mr. Sweetapple said. “Rumor has it that some federal dollars will be available soon, so we are keeping an eye on that source. The committee is in discussion with local businesses, DEQ and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to secure more funding for the program next year. It looks promising, but we don’t have any solid commitments yet.”

Mr Sweetapple said that the IDEQ plans to continue to do the program annually as they secure funding for each year. He said that it has been shown that replacing older stoves has created noticeable air quality benefits throughout the western United States.

For more information on the wood stove change-out program contact the IDEQ at 208-666-4602.

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