Valley air district offers big discount on electric lawn mowers

Air officials are offering environmentally friendly lawn mowers on the cheap in a campaign to replace 1,100 pollution-putting gas mowers with ones that run on electricity instead.

The Clean Green Yard Machines 2008 program lets anyone living in the San Joaquin Valley trade in their old lawn mower for a voucher allowing them to buy a Neuton mower for $150. That equates to a 62 percent discount on the clean, cordless mowers, which usually retail for $399, according to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The deal is a bargain for the environment as well. A gas mower can pollute as much as 40 cars, according to the air district.

While the electricity for the mowers still requires running power plants that "is a much cleaner option than the emissions directly from a gas-burning lawn mower operating for the same period," air district spokesman Anthony Presto said.

The offer ends either May 31 or when 1,100 lawn mowers have been replaced. The campaign is part of the air district's new Healthy Air Living Program, which seeks to make air quality a priority in the San Joaquin Valley.

To participate, lawn-mower owners first get vouchers by calling or emailing the air district at 557-6400 or public.education@valleyair.org.

They must then drain all oil and gas from their mowers and take it to the recycling center in their county. Some recyclers will accept mowers from other counties but people should check first, Presto said.

The designated recycling plant for Merced County is Atwater Iron and Metal at 888 N. Applegate Road.

The recycling company gives participants validation stickers, which then allow them to order the mower from Neuton Lawn Mower Company using the voucher information.