Commentary

Roper: Climate Council no clue how to pay for ‘plan’

By Rob Roper, Ethan Allen Institute

It is too generous to call what the Vermont Climate Council presented on December 1 a “plan.” A plan would consist of all the major and most of the minor details of how to complete a project, or at the very least a key phase of a project. A plan to build a house, for example, would include an overall design, list of necessary materials, a list of contractors (framers, excavators, carpenters, plumbers, etc.), a thorough understanding of the zoning regulations and permits necessary, a timeline, and – the big one – how much the thing will ultimately cost to complete.

Rob Roper

The Climate Action Plan, keeping with the above comparison, is roughly the equivalent of a child’s finger paint drawing of a house, complete with a big yellow, smiley-face sun in the sky above.

The Climate Council was tasked with figuring out how to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates laid out in the Global Warming Solutions Act. A year later, and they really don’t have a clue how to realistically do this. They have my sympathies, because it’s not and never was a realistic proposition, but this what they signed up for.

The Cross Sector Mitigation subcommittee of the Climate Council met on December 16th to discuss some of the costs and logistics regarding some of the elements of the “plan.” A big one is the necessity to weatherize 25,000 homes between 2023 and 2026. The estimated cost for doing this is $122 to $147 million dollars above and beyond what we currently spend to subsidize weatherization projects. Where does that money come from? Crickets.

$7 million of that above estimate is an admittedly totally uneducated guess by the Council for what it will take to train a labor force to do the work because, small problem, such a labor force does not exist. The Council did a study and estimates that a trained weatherization crew of four people can do 20 home upgrades per year – out of 6250 per year that would need to be completed to meet the target. Well, that’s what you get for chasing workers out of Vermont with high taxes, bothersome regulations, exorbitant housing costs, and an impending ban of the sale of internal combustion engine pick-up trucks, which by the way, all of these people drive to do their jobs.

So, while these non-existent-in-Vermont skilled laborers are at it doing this weatherization work, the Council noted that it would be great if they could also, at the same time, be upgrading the electrical capacity of these homes to handle electric vehicle charging. The “plan” calls for putting 40,000 EVs on Vermont roads by 2025 and what good is an EV if you have no place to charge it, right? The cost to upgrade just 10,000 homes they estimated to be $27 million. (They didn’t consider that if the crew is doing two jobs in one house at the same time, they will be able to service fewer overall homes, so let’s notch down that 20 per year number,  and, yes, these super-laborers will also likely be asked to install a heat pump too, since they’re in the neighborhood.)

Where will the money come to pay for this? One delightful suggestion was simply tacking a charge onto everyone’s electric bill – a $27 million “pay for my neighbor’s home EV charging station tax” because our electric rates aren’t high enough as it is.

The Council still has no idea how to make up for the collapse of the interstate Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) program, which was estimated to bring in about $20 million a year. A lot of money to be sure, but nothing close to what all these programs will cost. Their only “plan” (again the quotes are necessary) at this point is banking on another flood of federal money from Build Back Better, which, like TCI, appears to be dying if not already dead thanks to the still intact sanity of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

But fear not! When the legislature returns in January the Council is going to ask them for an additional $2.5 million in your taxpayer dollars to assist them in their “planning” process. Yes, all they need is more money, an expanded bureaucracy, and more power to control your life and all of a sudden this giant, colossal, expensive mess will magically come together.

The author is a Stowe resident and president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

4 replies »

  1. “Weatherization” programs in Vermont have been around for a while. One such plan was basement/foundation sill foaming pushed by EfficiencyVT many years ago and my father felt he should “do the right thing” and invite one of the expert crews into his home to foam the sill. I have never seen such a sloppy, shoddy job, spraying foam into joist cavities that were not even next to the exterior and oozing the foam onto plumbing and wiring that cannot easily be accessed now.
    Can’t wait to see the “experts” that will be made available for the next phase of “weatherizing” jobs.
    Maybe the state needs to stop subsidizing fuel and with the current fuel prices, that will get homeowners to gain incentive to do some weatherizing on their own. This proposal has got fraud and shoddy work written all over it. Paying your own fuel bill, especially at Biden-era prices should be motivation enough to do some weatherizing and economizing.

  2. Wonder why all these schools and other large gov. buildings have mold issues. For longevity, structures need to breathe. Old houses lasted 100 years, some many more. These new ziplocked, spray foamed, super tight, vapor barriered, composite homes will not last half the time of their non gov. predecessors (much like electric vehicles) but they cost twice as much and can lead to air quality issues down the road for their inhabitants. Efficiency Vermont is a scam. All the contractors know it but it’s steady business for them and gives our legislators a false sense of accomplishment and value.

    • E V Is a scam, you are absolutely correct. And look where the money comes from to operate this piece of fraud.
      They have done absolutely nothing for us, bottom line, even when we asked.

  3. There is a lot more to this issue than we are being led to believe. Recently, I struck up a conversation with my local mechanic re: climate change. He knows his ‘stuff” as he worked with biological weaponry in the military and has extensive experience with auto-related. So much of what is being put out there is sheer tom-foolery/lies. The US government has been ‘seeding’ i.e. messing with the weather since 1945. LBJ bragged about it on video.

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