Bill Would Help Conversion From Oil Heat Sources

A House committee this morning approved a bill setting up a loan program for people who want to convert their home heating equipment from oil, coal or wood heaters to another fuel source.

The bill allows the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to provide one-percent, ten year loans to homeowners who currently have outdated burners.  Sponsor Tammie Wilson, a Republican from North Pole,  says the purpose of the plan is to get the public to stop using home heating oil.

Oil is one of the dirtiest ways to heat our homes. We know that the cost of oil just keeps going up.  We want people to look at these alternatives and realize that in our state that these are options that we have that won’t just help our air quality, but will be able to sustain it longer at a lower cost – more affordable for them.

North Pole voters, last fall, rejected an initiative that would have banned most wood-burning appliances.  City officials were quoted at the time saying that it was the initiative — not the desire for cleaner air — that led to the rejection.

The bill originally only allowed conversion to natural gas.  But Wilson says that since the plan is statewide, it now allows the use of natural or propane gas, electric heaters – and even back to wood in the form of biomass devices certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.  Those decisions will be up to the homeowner, but with guidelines from a certified Energy Rater.

There’s no way in a bill that you would be able to designate and tell people which way they have to go.  That’s why there’s a Rater that’s involved in this.  So the rater would come in, look at what you had, and – our hopes are that would be a professional – and say this would work for your house or this wouldn’t and helpyou make those decisions on a one-on-one basis.

The bill next goes to the Finance Committee.  An identical bill, introduced by Fairbanks Democrat Joe Thomas, is already in the Senate Finance Committee.

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