Wood Stove Change-Out Program for Greater Portola Nonattainment Area

This page last reviewed August 3, 2017

This page contains information regarding the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (District) comprehensive wood stove change-out program.  This program was established with the help of a U.S. EPA Targeted Air Shed Grant. (Unless otherwise noted, documents are in .pdf format.)


In 2015, U.S. EPA designated the City of Portola and the surrounding communities in Plumas County as a Moderate Nonattainment Area for the annual 12.0 ug/m3 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standard with a deadline of December 2021 for attainment. The predominant source of PM2.5 pollution in Portola is residential wood combustion from space heating. The elevated PM2.5 concentrations occur during winter months when stagnant air conditions are coupled with increased demand for home heating. On those days, emissions from wood burning contribute almost 90 percent of particle pollution.

Many households in the Nonattainment Area heat their homes with old, highly polluting, and inefficient wood stoves. The newest U.S. EPA-certified wood stoves burn up to 80 percent cleaner than the older uncertified stoves.  In an effort to protect public health and the environment, the District established the Greater Portola Wood Stove Change-Out Program (Program). This Program provides residents of the Nonattainment Area with incentives to replace their inefficient and highly polluting stoves with more efficient and cleaner-burning home heating devices. The District received approximately $2.5 million for this Program from U.S. EPA' s 2015 Targeted Air Shed Grant. This funding will provide for the change-out of approximately 600 stoves by the end of 2020.

Greater Portola Wood Stove Change-Out Program

The Program marks the beginning of a broad-based effort to overhaul the old burning practices in the Nonattainment Area by implementing the following changes:

  • Helping residents replace their old wood stoves with cleaner burning and more efficient devices;
  • Requiring professional installation to ensure maximum efficiency and minimum pollution from each change-out;
  • Requiring removal and destruction of the old stoves;
  • Banning installation of uncertified stoves in the Nonattainment Area;
  • Raising awareness of proper maintenance of heating equipment to achieve optimum performance; and
  • Educating households on the importance and benefits of splitting, stacking, and covering firewood.

The main goal of the Program is to reduce pollution and help the area attain the PM2.5 standards. However, the benefits of the Program go far beyond the main goal by improving the well-being of the community, including:

  • Improved Health - Exposure to woodsmoke has been linked to short- and long-term health problems, including reduced lung function, asthma complications, bronchitis, harmful birth outcomes such as low birth weight, increased impacts on the heart, and premature death.
  • Reduced Fuel Costs - Consumers should be able to save approximately one-third of their annual fuels costs through the use of professionally installed, certified, high-efficiency wood stoves.
  • Increased Safety - Many old wood stoves pose serious fire risks and professionally installed new stoves will meet local fire and building codes.
  • Improved Comfort - A more efficient stove will make it easier to maintain a comfortable temperature in the residence at lower cost.

Residents of the Nonattainment Area are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. With incentives, every household in the Nonattainment Area could replace their inefficient uncertified stoves for little or no cost.