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  • Writer's pictureHannah Stinson

AGH Welcomes Energy Equity Program Manager!

Updated: Jun 26

Hello, I am Hannah Stinson, the new Energy Equity Program Manager for the Alliance for Green Heat. My passion for a sustainable and community-centric future has led me to this position in the green energy movement. Growing up in a wood-burning household, the vivid memories of my parents building and stoking the fire in our large wood stove will remain with me for life.

During my childhood, I assisted my dad in harvesting firewood for personal use from Caribou National Forest in Southeast Idaho. This all-day event felt like a normal and necessary way to prepare for winter, and it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered the barriers often preventing people from utilizing wood fuel for heat. Fast forward to today, where my partner and I harvest three cords of lodgepole pines from Bighorn National Forest in North Central Wyoming to heat our home during the long-anticipated winter. I use a hefty wood stove that originally brought heat to a schoolhouse in the valley and eagerly await the return of the chill in the fall. I’ve witnessed temperatures as low as -22°F and blizzards that last for days. The security my wood stove provides offers peace of mind that all people should have the option of experiencing. My upbringing in the Mountain West and connection to this tradition undoubtedly cultivated my love for the natural world and its abundant resources. I also know that I need to upgrade my old, uncertified stove and work with my small town to ensure no one is adversely impacted by any of our wood stoves.

My professional background is in geology and environmental sustainability led me to do research on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The collaboration between public stakeholders, private industry, and land and resource managers was exciting, to say the least. I then took my enthusiasm for applied resource management to the USDA, private landowner space, where I connected private landowners to tools and information that helped them understand biodiversity, soil health, water conservation, and sustainable crop production. 

American wood stove enables millions of homes to use a traditional solution to winter's cold. We need that innovation to go to the next level and to embrace new stove testing protocols, so our stoves will be cleaner in the field, not just the test lab. The conversation around air pollution helps us better understand that wood stoves are not a great energy solution in densely population areas, or ones with strong inversions, but they can and will play an essential renewable energy role because we need a diversity of low-carbon energy solutions to match the huge geographical and income diversity in out country. Energy sovereignty has the potential to change lives and reinforce the power of community. 

I look forward to using my position to positively impact communities and expand energy equity. I envision a future of collaboration with existing Firewood Banks where they serve as community hubs for information and learning. Even more firewood banks can engage with wood fuel networks and assist recipients, host workshops, trainings, and build outreach with our help. Developing and maintaining a healthy woodfuel burning household may be easy for some, but not for all, and it is one of many energy challenges our nation faces.  As we develop models for how more firewood banks can better serve their communities,  we will also share how it could in turn benefit your community. Stay tuned for more.

I am optimistic about the green energy transition but it will need a complex collaboration to ensure low-income households aren't left behind - and a recognition of the leadership of low-income communities, most of whom are far less carbon intensives than wealthy households . We have accepted a system so dependent on fossil fuels that it’s hard to picture a time when homes were entirely energy self-sufficient. In many ways, wood fuel is the most equitable option for home heat available for many rural communities. I stand with community-supported energy initiatives because heat and warm homes are also human rights. 

Best regards, Hannah Stinson

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