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Consumers line up for electric mower discounts
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A clean air program offering large discounts on electric mowers has already seen its initial round sell-out, but those who didn’t get the deal need not worry because more are on the way, according to the local air district.The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is sponsoring the Clean Green Yard Machines program, which offers electric lawn mowers at a deeply discounted rate. The initial allotment of $400,000 for 1,600 mowers sold out in three days said air district spokesperson Janelle Schneider. In response to the high consumer demand, the air district is committing an additional $125,000 for 500 more mowers.“Because of the overwhelming response to this popular program, we are releasing an additional $125,000,” said Seyed Sadredin, the district’s executive director and air pollution control officer.  “We hope to release even more funding after the first of the year once the lawn mower manufacturer has fully caught up with this current overwhelming wave of orders.”The lawn mower trade-in replaces old, polluting, gas-powered mowers with clean, electric Neuton mowers. The 14-inch Neuton cordless, electric mower will cost consumers $25 and the larger, 19-inch model costs $50. These mowers retail for $349 and $399 on the company’s website.The second round of funding started Friday. The district anticipates exhausting the additional funding before the end of next week.Cordless electric mowers operate off a battery pack and can mow for about one hour off a single charge. The life of the battery is about five years, depending on use, then typically is in need of replacement. The cost of a new battery ranges from about $80 to $110. Recharging a battery uses about 10 cents worth of electricity and is fully recharged in about 12 hours, according to Neuton’s website.The switch from a gas mower to an electric mower can have a significant impact on the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.EPA statistics show gas mowers contributing about 5 percent of the air pollution in the United States. Additionally, the EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of fuel, usually gasoline, are spilled each year  while refueling lawn equipment, which is more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.The Union of Concerned Scientists estimate that one gas mower running for an hour emits about the same amount of pollutants as eight new cars driving 55 mph for the same amount of time.The additional funding for the mowers was authorized by the district’s Governing Board from the 2010-11 budget for community incentive grants.“We’re not surprised but we are gratified that this program meets a pressing need for Valley residents and our goal of clean air,” Sadredin said.To participate in the program residents should call (559) 230-6000 and request a voucher for Clean Green Yard Machines. After receiving the voucher residents have to take their old, gas-powered mower to an authorized recycler. After turning in the old mower, residents can order the new cordless electric mower by phone and it will be delivered to their home with no shipping costs.To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.