SALT LAKE CITY — Helping a handful of households shed wood-burning fireplaces and establishing an "air quality debating" program for thousands of schoolchildren are among 13 efforts to receive money in an inaugural grant program announced Thursday by the Utah Clean Air Partnership.
In total, more than $350,000 was awarded to pay for education, energy/transportation and home retrofit projects to improve the air quality along the Wasatch Front.
“UCAIR is focused on educating, encouraging and empowering everyone to take actions that can improve our air quality,” said Ted Wilson, the group's executive director.
“We recognize that emissions-reducing and energy-efficient technologies are an investment, and our focus with this program is to help bridge the gap between having a great idea and fiscally being able to bring that idea to fruition," Wilson said.
Recipients and their focus are:
• Breathe Utah to change out five wood-burning fireplaces in Wasatch Front households.
• GREENbike to install a new bike station at 250 S. 300 East, the first in a residential area.
• KUED for the documentary “The Air We Breathe.”
• The National Energy Foundation for the support an air quality debating program serving 5,000 students in fourth-ninth grades.
• The Provo City Council to deliver an educational kit for the city.
• The Salt Lake Chamber for the 2014 Clear the Air Challenge.
• Salt Lake City for its “Smart Trips” bus, bike and S-Line streetcar program.
• The University of Utah for the development of an air quality video game for distribution to schools.
• The Utah Clean Cities Coalition for its promotion of idle-free education.
• The Utah Transit Authority for its “Ride Clear” free rider pass program.
• Salt Lake County for one electric vehicle charging station, and in partnership with the Utah Office of Energy Development, an additional two electric vehicle-charging stations.
• Utah Clean Energy for educational clean energy workshops for businesses and to prepare Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy financial packages for qualifying clean energy building upgrades.
In addition, a new infusion of grant money is available through the Utah Department of Workforce Services' Assist program. Grants totaling $1.3 million will be made available for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The grants are designed to help companies come into compliance with more than two dozen new air quality rules aimed at decreasing emission and helping the state come into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.
The 26 regulations passed by the Utah Air Quality Board affect multiple businesses, such as auto body shops, printing stores and degreasing operations, and may require the installation of new equipment.
"What we see is that we have a number of small businesses that are an integral part of our community, and we want to help those businesses, help them sustain themselves and help them to grow," said workforce services spokesman Nic Dunn.
"At the same time, we look out our window and see pollution inversions building up from time to time. This is a way to help both causes at the same time," Dunn said.