By DARRIN YOUKER
NEW YORK — Owners of outdoor wood boilers in New York caught a break in late October as state officials held off on implementing a new set of regulations that would have curtailed their use.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is considering a set of regulations that would require wood boilers to have chimneys that are at least 18 feet tall and would set limitations on what months they could be used.
Those regulations, which were set to go into effect in November, were delayed so the agency could hold a second round of public hearings on the issue.
That’s welcome relief to some landowners who use wood boilers as a home-heating source. But still, members of the New York State Farm Bureau are fighting to make sure the regulations never go into effect.
“We are going to continue to fight,” said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau. “We believe they are very intent on shoving this through. We are going to try and override these regulations.”
A number of rural landowners use wood boilers as a source of winter home heating and hot water heating, Gregg said.
DEC air quality officials have proposed that every new wood boiler installed in New York have a minimum chimney height of 18 feet. Also, existing boilers would have to be replaced after 10 years of use.
DEC regulations would prohibit most of New York from using wood boilers between May and August, with some land owners closer to New York City unable to burn between May and October 1.
“The DEC expects us to take cold showers all summer,” Gregg said. “They just don’t get it.”
Requiring wood boilers to have an 18-foot tall chimney is just not practical, Gregg said. Much of New York, particularly open farm areas, is subjected to strong winds. Tall chimneys wouldn’t last in a good wind storm, he said.
But what’s more, the manufacturers of wood boilers already have to meet government regulations that govern emissions, Gregg said. There is no reason for the DEC to step in and determine what months of the year people should use wood boilers, he said.
“There are a lot of bureaucrats in Albany looking down their noses at this method of heating homes,” Gregg said. “They have a very snooty look at this form of home heating.”
Many farm bureau members use wood boilers as an economical way of heating their homes, Gregg said. A good number of rural New Yorkers have their own woodlots to supply boilers, he said. “It is a very efficient way to heat a home in rural New York.”
Tom McGinnis, who uses his wood boiler to heat his home in Leroy, said he does not understand the purpose of the DEC regulations. But, if they go into effect, he’ll have no choice but to abide by them.
McGinnis bought a brand new boiler this year, and it has improved emissions and burn rate over the boiler he purchased a few years ago. McGinnis, who has a large wood lot, decided to install a boiler and use it for home heating because of the high prices of oil and propane.
The chimney on the boiler is 10 feet tall, and McGinnis worries that having one that is 18-feet-tall would require a structural support.