Reprinted, with minor edits, from the most recent issue of “The Fuel Line,” the newsletter of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.
The ordinance committee in Vermont’s largest city met last night to discuss whether or not they can ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.
The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association has hired an attorney to investigate whether a Vermont municipality can legally ban oil and gas burners or enact a fee that would make it prohibitively expensive to install one. According to this memo from the city of Burlington, under the draft ordinance a new hotel that wants to heat with gas would have to pay an estimated $200,000 for a permit. Go tovermontfuel.com/burnerbanto learn more about the proposal.
Municipal Energy Committees across the state are drafting their own versions of a burner ban or heat tax as a way to fight climate change in their towns. And the newly formed Vermont Climate Council will consider similar actions statewide. This morning the Council will hold its first meeting. Click here to look at the agenda and listen to the discussion.
[Editor’s note: When asked at today’s press conference, Gov. Phil Scott chose to not take a position on the proposed fossil fuel heating ban. “It’s something that these entities will be talking about, and we will listen. But I don’t have control over the 23 member panel,” Gov. Scott said. When pressed for his view on a new fossil-fuel heating ban, he said it’s hard to answer without the data. “Is it practical? Is it something we can afford? There are so many questions.” He also said there are no developments on a constitutional challenge to the Global Warming Solutions Act.]
Fuel Assistance for Red-Tagged
Nearly 14,000 Vermont families received fuel assistance this week. Some of these fuel assistance customers have not had their fuel oil tank inspected yet.
Under the new enforcement discretion policy, fuel dealers can fill an uninspected tank as long as it doesn’t pose a “significant threat to human health or the environment.” This discretion applies only to tanks of current customers, not new customers. And it is only for tanks in basements, not outdoor tanks.
Fuel dealers with a customer on the red tag list (click here to link to the list) can get permission to fill the tank on a case by case basis.
Time to Split
Many Vermonters who don’t qualify for fuel assistance still need help. Donations of heating fuel in Vermont are made possible thanks to the Split the Ticket Fund, a non-profit charity operated by VFDA that raises money from the community and matches with donations of heating oil, kerosene and propane. For more information go to vermontfuel.com/split.
Governor Scott has issued a ban on inter-family gatherings, the closure of bars and social clubs, and the cancellation of recreational sports leagues as the Covid-19 case count rises in Vermont. Many of the new cases have been linked to out-of-state travel or private social gatherings where people haven’t worn masks. Go to accd.vermont.gov for the latest requirements and travel restrictions. The Vermont State Police, Division of Fire Safety and Department of Liquor and Lottery will resume compliance assessments and educational efforts at lodging facilities, bars and restaurants. The Department of Public Safety will also distribute COVID-19 safety cards during traffic stops to help inform drivers of the travel policy and other safety protocols. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting outreach to hunters to ensure they understand the updated travel policy and gathering advisory.
How cold is it? 1272 heating degree days have been recorded outside VFDA’s office since September 1. That’s 5% less than normal and 11% less than last year.
News of Note
The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee has steered an additional $75 million into grants intended to help Vermont’s hospitality businesses survive the winter.
Gov. Charlie Baker is re-evaluating TCI in Massachusetts amid pandemic as advocates urge support.
Restaurants are “winterizing” with propane to accommodate outdoor dining.
CDC urges Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and to consider canceling plans to spend time with relatives outside their households.
With COVID-19 cases surging across the United States, AAA is forecasting a drop of at least 10% in travel during the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The decline would be the largest one-year decrease since the 2008.
Sales of gasoline in Vermont were down 17% over the first nine months of 2020 when compared with the same period last year. Click here to take a closer look at the numbers.
While electric vehicles (EVs) are currently less than 2% of vehicle sales, experts at the NACS Fuels Institute anticipate the market will accelerate. Ford has said it plans to spend $11.5 billion through 2022 to increase electrification of its fleet. However, even if 60% of the light-duty vehicles sold in the next two decades are EVs, two-thirds of the cars on the road would still run on gasoline because it takes time to turn over the vehicle fleet.
The Province of Québec announced this week that they will not allow the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles beginning in 2035 as part of a climate plan to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The plan aims to have 1.5 million electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 and will incentivize EV purchases with rebates as well as constructing a charging station infrastructure for drivers.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) has relaunched the State’s Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentive Program with a new round of $950,000 in incentive funding available to income-qualified applicants to purchase or lease new PEVs. Incentive amounts range from $1,500 to $4,000 based on income level and whether the vehicle is an all-electric or plug-in hybrid model.