OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 84 (File 196, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING OUTDOOR WOOD-BURNING FURNACES.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes several changes to the outdoor wood-burning furnace law. It:

1. makes permanent the ban on installing, modifying, or using outdoor wood-burning furnaces that do not meet certain requirements;

2. extends, to outdoor wood-burning furnaces constructed or in use before July 8, 2005, two restrictions that currently apply only to furnaces constructed or first used on and after that date;

3. adds wood pellets to the materials allowed for burning in all such furnaces;

4. requires any such furnace constructed, installed, or modified on and after October 1, 2012, to meet certain emission standards;

5. prohibits operating or using an outdoor wood-burning furnace between May 1 and September 30 in a given year under certain circumstances; and

6. allows replacing or modifying a lawfully installed outdoor wood-burning furnace if it results in a net reduction of particulate matter emissions.

The bill also requires the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to convene a working group on outdoor wood-burning furnaces to evaluate (1) changes to existing statutes and regulations and (2) certain economic incentives.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) imposes an emissions requirement on certain outdoor-wood burning furnaces; (2) allows any affected property owner to file a complaint, instead of only an adjoining owner; (3) limits the seasonal restriction to the year of the complaint and violation determination; and (4) adds the working group provision.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

OUTDOOR WOOD-BURNING FURNACE REQUIREMENTS

Current law prohibits people from constructing, installing, establishing, modifying, operating, or using an outdoor wood-burning furnace until the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations governing these furnaces take effect (none have been adopted) unless the furnace was built or in use before July 8, 2005, or it:

1. is installed at least 200 feet from the nearest residence not serviced by it;

2. has a chimney no higher than 55 feet but higher than the roof peaks of residences not serviced by it within 500 feet of the furnace;

3. burns only non-chemically treated wood; and

4. is installed and operated according to the manufacturer's written instructions, provided the instructions comply with the law.

The bill makes these restrictions permanent by no longer requiring their termination when federal regulations are effective. It adds wood pellets to the burnable materials.

The bill also extends to outdoor wood-burning furnaces built or in use before July 8, 2005 requirements that the furnaces (1) be operated and installed according to the manufacturer's written instructions and (2) burn only wood pellets or non-chemically treated wood.

EMISSIONS REQUIREMENT

Beginning October 1, 2012, the bill requires any outdoor wood-burning furnace constructed, installed, or modified to meet (1) the minimum EPA voluntary Phase 2 emission standard or (2) a comparable standard for hydronic heaters (see BACKGROUND).

SEASONAL OPERATION RESTRICTION

The bill prohibits operating or using an outdoor wood-burning furnace between May 1 to September 30 in a given year if:

1. a property owner affected by its use or operation files a written complaint with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner or local health director and

2. either official determines that its use or operation violates state air pollution control law or the Public Health Code's nuisance abatement provision.

WORKING GROUP

The bill requires the OPM secretary or his designees to convene a working group to evaluate modifications to existing statutes and regulations and develop economic incentives to:

1. replace existing outdoor wood-burning furnaces with cleaner technologies,

2. evaluate state and municipal resource needs for timely enforcing standards for such furnaces,

3. evaluate the need for banning their operation on high ozone days, and

4. evaluate methods of reducing particulate matter emissions.

It requires the working group to consist of the commissioners of Agriculture, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Public Health. The working group must solicit testimony from impacted organizations on the (1) number of installations and (2) volume of outdoor-wood burning furnace sales in Connecticut.

BACKGROUND

Emission Standards

While indoor wood stoves must meet EPA-certified emissions levels, outdoor wood-burning furnaces are not required to meet a federal emission standard. In 2007, EPA began a voluntary partnership with manufacturers to design and market cleaner, more efficient furnaces. The furnaces are certified and labeled to meet EPA emissions performance levels in two phases: Phase 1 emissions levels of 0. 60 pounds of particulate matter per million British thermal units (BTUs) of heat input and Phase 2 emissions levels of 0. 32 pounds of particulate matter per million BTUs of heat output.

Nuisance Abatement

Under the public health regulations, local health directors must investigate a nuisance or pollution when they are informed of it or it comes to their attention. If they find the nuisance or pollution exists, they must issue a written order for abatement. The order must (1) specify the nature of the nuisance or pollution and (2) designate the time to abate or discontinue it. If the order is not complied with, the local health director must submit the information to the prosecutor (Conn. Agencies Reg. 19-13-B2).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

22

Nay

7

(03/14/2012)