Statewide discounts for cleaner lawn, snow equipment start Jan. 1

Suzie Romig
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Steamboat Ace Hardware Seasonal Associate Deborah Price talks about the rechargeable battery-powered EGO snowblowers, which are part of the 30% discount state incentives starting Jan. 1.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

For residents who want to use more than a snow shovel or lawn rake to tackle fall and winter outdoor chores, but also want to do their part for clean air, state tax credits start Jan. 1 for businesses selling residential-level electric-powered lawn and snow equipment.

Customers will see a 30% decrease on the manufacturer price and the businesses will receive reimbursement through state tax credits. The new law is part of Senate Bill 23-016 “Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures” finalized in May.

The law notes that gasoline-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and snowblowers emit high levels of air pollutants including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that together form ozone and particulate matter.

According to an October report, Grand County had 1,431 tons of carbon monoxide emissions from lawn equipment in 2020. The county produced .97 tons of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), which is equivalent to the emissions of 10,389 cars. The report was produced by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research and Policy Center, and Frontier Group using Environmental Protection Agency air pollution data.

In Routt County, lawn and garden equipment emitted as much fine particulate pollution in 2020 as 27,000 cars, noted Kirsten Schatz, clean air advocate at nonprofit CoPIRG Foundation, or Colorado Public Interest Research Group, in Denver.

Clean air advocates say electric lawn and garden alternatives are readily available that are cleaner, quieter, capable and affordable. Participating retailers in the region for the reduced prices starting in January include Lowe’s and Steamboat Ace Hardware.

Schatz said the state tax credits for smaller outdoor equipment is an important part of reducing overall air pollution because that equipment uses inefficient, two-stroke engines. For example, using a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour emits as much pollution at 15 cars driving for one hour, according to CoPIRG.

Lawn and garden equipment across Colorado emitted an estimated 671 tons of fine particulate air pollution in 2020, an amount equivalent to the pollution produced by more than seven million typical cars through a year, Schatz explained.

“Small push mowers and handheld lawn equipment is actually pound per pound more polluting because of engine technology,” Schatz said. “It mixes oil and fuel together with little to no emissions controls.”

CoPIRG said improvements in equipment technology in recent years, plus the state tax credit, make it a prime time to switch to a new generation of clean, quieter electric lawn equipment.

“It’s absurd that we have been tolerating so much harmful pollution and noise just to cut grass and maintain landscapes,” Schatz said.

Seasonal Department Manager Lianna Luallin at Steamboat Ace Hardware said sales of rechargeable battery-powered EGO leaf blowers, chainsaws and snowblowers have been brisk in the past year. In EGO products, Steamboat Ace sold 116 chainsaws, 109 snowblowers and 103 leaf blowers, Luallin said.

Luallin said she personally is an EGO customer and enjoys the fact that the rechargeable battery equipment does not require oil and gas maintenance.

“They are a lot more user- and eco-friendly, and the EGO customer service is top notch,” Luallin said.

Billy Thompson, assistant store manager at the M.J.K. Sales and Feed Ace Hardware in Craig, said the store’s leadership is looking into the option of providing the 30% price reduction. Thompson said sales of the non-polluting lawn equipment have increased in the past few years as battery life has improved.

Schatz said using gas-powered equipment causes “unnecessary pollution (that) imposes a significant health cost.”

“The pollutants emitted by gas-powered lawn equipment include fine particulates (PM2.5), ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and air toxics such as benzene, 1,3-butadiene and formaldehyde. Exposure to these pollutants in our air has been linked to health problems including asthma attacks, reproductive ailments, mental health challenges and cancer,” according to CoPIRG.

Schatz said the top five Colorado counties in terms of fine particulate matter pollution in 2020 included Arapahoe, Jefferson, El Paso, Adams and Douglas. In mountain communities, Mesa County landed at 11th worst, Eagle at 12th and Garfield at 13th.

Schatz pointed out that federal tax credits to businesses to purchase electric-powered commercial-grade, larger riding mowers have been available since January through federal incentives. That tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act is 30% or up to $7,500 per mower. Schatz said brands such as U.S. made MeanGreen have come a long way to provide eight hours of lawn cutting time.

Yampa Valley Electric Association member-customers were able to take advantage of $150 rebates on electric-powered lawn maintenance equipment and snowblowers as part of the Energy Hero rebate program. The “first come, first serve” rebates closed in June for 2023.

This story is from Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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