If you live in Alaska, chances are you already know how expensive it can be to heat your home. Unless you are new here, so in that case surprise! Alaskans pay almost 4 times the national average for oil and electricity. For some the use of an alternative heating method such as a wood stove, pellet stove or masonry heater is essential in offsetting these ridiculously high rates. What if I told you that your alternative heat source may no longer be an option. The Fairbanks North Star Borough is once again trying to regulate (control) how people heat their homes. Two co-workers, Ben Matthews and Kristina Hoffert hope to change that. “The Borough has no right to tell you how to heat your homes,” said Hoffert, referring to the legislature that wants to regulate and inspect woodstoves and alternative heaters.
If the Boroughs proposal passes, then after January 1st 2018 if a Level 1 burn ban is in place, anyone that has not replaced their woodstove with a new efficient one or had an inspection done, will be fined. Conveniently there is one main woodstove dealer in town, who happens to not only sell woodstoves but also perform inspections and installations on them. By sheer coincidence he is also on the Boroughs “Clean-Air Coalition” forum, pushing for this new regulation and costly replacement of woodstoves.
A couple years back the Borough had a woodstove exchange program enacted. This program set a standard for what type of woodstove a person may own and was touted as a way to help keep our air free of particulates. “As we all know it couldn’t possibly be the three power plants operating within a 7-mile radius of each other causing such high rates of air pollution, it can only be woodstoves,” said Mike Kraft owner of Delta Windfarm
Needless to say, Matthews and Hoffert had had enough of being told how to heat their homes.
“We don’t like being told how to heat our homes, the cost of heating fuel is too high,” said Hoffert. So, they started a petition. The petition asks that the borough define exactly what a “woodstove” means. The first initial attempt at writing up the petition was denied for being too broad. Borough lawyers told the duo it had to be re-written so as not to impact the upcoming gas line. Eventually the two succeeded in getting a formal petition in circulation.
The two-trailblazers needed 1872 signatures by July 7th to get this issue on the docket for this fall. As of July 6th, their numbers sat in the low 700’s. Part of the problem is getting the word out. “People don’t realize what is happening until it is too late,” said Hoffert. Though they missed this Falls docket they can still get on for Fall 2018. Now the two along with volunteers are trying to get the remaining signatures. If you are interested in helping out or signing the petition, check them out at firstname.lastname@example.org