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Restrictions for boilers may toughen

Wood-fired boilers under close scrutiny by state DEC

December 21, 2010
By JOHN R. BECKER, The Leader-Herald

ALBANY - The state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing new restrictions on wood boilers that will not only limit their use but also make them prohibitively expensive for consumers.

The DEC wants to impose tighter controls, including requiring them to have 18-foot-tall smokestacks and banning their use between June 1 and Aug. 31. The proposal also called for phasing out existing wood boilers by 2020, but that restriction was lifted Monday.

The regulations will be discussed by the state Environmental Review Board on Wednesday in Albany.

Lee Robinson, an owner of Allen & Palmer True Value in Northville, said the new regulations would add substantially to the cost of the boilers, which already cost between $4,000 and $10,000.

"It's probably going to put the average consumer right out of the market," he said.

Residents have been drawn to wood boilers by the cost-effectiveness of wood for not only heating homes and businesses but also hot water.

Robinson also said the stacks on the units his store sells are made of stainless steel, not aluminum. If the material is strong enough and guy wires are used correctly, the 18-foot minimum smokestack height shouldn't be a problem, he said.

"I go along with most of what DEC is trying to do," Robinson said. "But they're trying to regulate something that should be regulated locally."

Perth, Gloversville and the town of Mayfield have passed legislation in recent years, restricting the months boilers can be used and establishing minimum distances for placing the boilers away from homes and property lines.

Robinson said sales of outdoor wood boilers have decreased since DEC first proposed the regulations. The state's proposed phase-out of existing units was particularly concerning for customers.

"People are afraid to buy these units and then not be able to use them after a few years," Robinson said.

Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said Monday the state's decision to not require existing boilers to be eliminated is "a partial victory for upstate farmers and families. But there is still more to be fought for on Wednesday," he said in a statement.

"I still protest the overly stringent regulations and the overall disappointing governmental procedure that has quelled public involvement and discourse on a policy that will negatively affect thousands of households and aims to override local municipal home rule," he said.

The New York Farm Bureau last week criticized the timing of the Environmental Review Board meeting, saying it was an attempt by the state to "shove these regulations through a week before a new governor takes office," President Dean Norton said in a statement.

John R. Becker covers rural Fulton County and can be reached at



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