‘Affordable Heating Act’ passes 5-0 in Senate Committee

Myers Mermel, president of Ethan Allen Institute, explains why he believes the so-called ‘Affordable Heating Act’ will cost Vermonters even more than Scott administration estimates.

By Guy Page
Senate Bill 5, the Affordable Heating Act, was approved unanimously by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this morning.

The bill is a reprise of the Clean Heat Standard the Legislature passed last year only to be vetoed by Governor Phil Scott. It imposes a sales fee on fuel dealers and distribute some of the proceeds to weatherization and other non-fossil fuel energy initiatives. Supporters claim it will save money in the long run because electricity – at least now – is often cheaper than fossil fuels. But critics say the cost of transitioning from oil, propane and natural gas heat to electric-powered heat pumps places an undue burden on lower-income Vermonters.

This morning’s vote was unanimous, despite committee member Windsor County Senator Richard McCormack’s recent expressions of concern about the bill’s lack of clarity. McCormack this morning told the Vermont Daily Chronicle that social media claims that opposed the bill were overblown.

After weeks of committee testimony and wildly varying claims on the pricetag to consumers, what S5 will cost still appears uncertain. Jared Duval, a Vermont Climate Council member and official of a renewable power organization, said the Scott administration estimate of 70 cents per gallon of heating fuel is too high.

Myers Mermel, President of the free-market Ethan Allen Institute, told the committee Wednesday that reaching climate goals on time will require far more than an added 70 cents per gallon. “It will take 28 years to enact climate measures if only seventy cents is passed through as a fuel surcharge. The actual upfront costs will require the pass through of a surcharge of four dollars and four cents per gallon to achieve compliance in only five years,” Mermel said.

And it will have a disastrous, inequitable economic impact on poor Vermonters, he claimed.

“Once begun, the Carbon Doom Spiral will punish low- and moderate-income Vermonters with higher and higher fuel charges and no greater ability to fund changeover renovations,” Mermel said. “There will be no promised price protection for them. And as renovations lag, climate goals will be missed. The “carrot and stick” approach will be just sticks with no carrots. This new heat standard will increase income inequality and will become a new system which oppresses low- and moderate-income Vermonters. The Affordable Heat Act will increase, not diminish, suffering.”

The bill is likely to go to a Senate finance committee for its spending and taxation implications before it goes to the full Senate for discussion and vote.

Categories: Legislation

41 replies »

  1. A tax by any other name is still….

    a) A good way to pay for raising teachers’ pay
    b) A good way to fund more CRT training in grade school
    c) Another anchor on your ability to afford essentials
    d) Yet another reason to move out of Calif… er… Vermont
    e) Another step in making Vermont an exclusive club where only the wealthy need apply.
    f) A good way to achieve prosperity
    g) A good way to fund more do-nothing committees in Burlington and Montpelier

    If you answered c) and/or d), congratulations! You’re a practical, productive individual. If you answered a) b) e) f) or g), either alone or in combination, you probably believe that you know better and more than the rest of us. See: Green New Deal, Fauxvid is deadly, masks work, and there are no US biolabs in Ukraine for starters.

    • Exactly, natural gas for one is one of the cleanest options available and is actually affordable compared to the electric heat most of these green fools want us to use. So let’s add a penalty to the people just trying to live.

  2. I guess it was just a momentary lapse of wokeness for Dick McCormack, and should have been foreseen I suppose. Call it wishful thinking, but it had me hoping for a return to sanity .

    • Dick McCormack and the word “sanity” do not belong in the same sentence. Uh-oh, I hope he doesn’t call the cops on me now…is he feeling “unsafe”? Wait, the cops were defunded by the democrats, correct? I’m so confused; ah well, better than being deluded like a Vermont legislator.

  3. 2024 is an election year, don’t get worked up, the impact will be minimal. All bets are off for 2025. California’s current energy prices will seem cheap compared to 2025 Vermont prices.
    Vermont has passed the point of reasonable government about a decade ago.

  4. Glad I saw the writing on the wall over 3 years ago and moved out of the state. Now I encourage my friends and relatives to do the same. Also, I will never visit there again. Not the Vermont I grew up in.

    • Same here – We left 2 years ago but still have one remaining property we need to sell. We still have some family left in VT (who we are encouraging to move out). For the limited time we do visit, we absolutely do not patronize Burlington since I’d prefer not to reward bad behavior and we choose to remain safe from the violence/crime that permeates that cirty. Regrettably, Vermont is lost for another 2-3 generations.

    • Yep. I’m putting my place up for sale soon and getting out of this nuthouse. Truly sad to see what VT has become. And even sadder that heat pumps are only usable when it isn’t horribly cold, old drafty VT homes aren’t good sites for them and bills like this only serve to harm lower to moderate income people. In addition, I honestly don’t think we need to worry about a warming planet; I’d put money on another ice age similar to the Mauder Minimum coming along soon. Good luck to the remaining Vermonters huddled in freezing homes “heated” by heat pumps. But just like the vax and mask fanatics who despite all evidence to the contrary, still fervently believe that they are safe and effective, so too will our climate change cultists be sure the planet is heating even as they turn into a block of ice!

  5. Do these people in Montpelier really think they are helping Vermonters and the rest of the country. I have not talked to one Vermonter that is in favor of this. Guess I forget that those in Montpelier are smarter than the rest of us Vermonters. Where did these people live before coming to Vermont. Are any committee members native Vermonters?

  6. Yesterday I thought Senator McCormick was displaying a rare bit of personal independence and integrity. I guess that thought was “overblown.”

  7. These Legislators, undoubtedly not from Vermont, DO NOT care about the common residents who do the living and dying here….EVERY one of them needs to be replaced

  8. Guy, why didn’t you mention the astronomical costs for this bill detailed by Myers of EAI before the committee vote.
    For the committee’s information, $1 billion is $1,000 million.
    They must have forgotten they are in Vermont, not Congress in Washington.

  9. They are really just unbelievable – completely void of integrity, common sense and especially . . . intelligence. It is surreal that they would vote for that hot mess of a bill. Just surreal.

  10. “Supporters claim it will save money in the long run because electricity – at least now – is often cheaper than fossil fuels.”
    Electricity- at least for now is cheaper until we start taxing it to support paying for upgrading the power grid, but hey what do I know I’m just a dumb ole Vermonter!!

  11. my house was all electric 25 years ago,the former owners had it superinsulated, added lots of energy efficient features (electric costs were much lower then) but it still cost them so much, they completely changed the heating system to oil, with different zones to be able to adjust as needed. now vermont wants that all changed back again? who pays for this?

  12. The benefits of the spending will be non-measurable changes in local VT temperatures and emissions. All for a non-existent “crisis”.

    The basis for all the climate “crisis” hype is that manmade CO2 is driving Earth’s warming the last 200+ years. Data says otherwise.
    CO2 levels are a trailing indicator of the overall warming due to solubility in the oceans. CO2 is NOT the main driver of temperatures. The last 17 years has shown essentially zero warming in US (historical rate of 0.13 deg. C /decade) despite billions of tons of emissions worth a 15% increase in CO2. If the correlation hypothesis fails, it must be incorrect!
    “It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that carbon dioxide, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.”
    US temperature anomalies…. See the crisis ramp up?

  13. Town Meeting is coming up shortly. I’m sure local municipal/town taxes and school taxes are set to go up for all. The Legislature is working diligently against all taxpayers to add even more financial burden in the face of rising inflation and rising interest rates. There is no doubt about it – they want to break us, bankrupt us, and turn us into impoverished servants. The numbers do not lie, nor do their actions. What will it take for the Vermont taxpayer to revolt and say no more, not one more dime?

    • How about a vote against? How about a recall? Neither one then residents will get what they deserve!

      • I will vote “no” – I’ll pray over my ballot and hope it is counted as marked. Maybe I won’t use their sharpie marker this time – are ballpoint pens considered contraband weaponry against their “democracy”? There is a spiritual stick about to be lodged into the spokes of their machine – declared and decreed.

  14. Even the Republicans are in part to blame. Westman claims to be one, but he voted for this atrocity. He is in the wrong party.

  15. Buy your firewood early. Even that will raise in price as more people turn to it.

    And then they will come for the wood stoves. Just watch. Something something “particulate matter,” and overly imaginary fire hazards. Wood is just so dirty, and dangerous. There ought to be a law!

    It’s almost like most of them are emotional thinkers, incapable of processing consequences & accountability, innately given to ideological peer-pressure, authoritarian in nature, and prefer “safety,” to freedom. Oh, also, they are unashamedly entitled to the resources of others. They don’t care if things are more expensive… someone else is supposed to pay for it, and they deserve the best.

  16. When the pandemic hit Phil Scott wasted no time rolling out a plan of action that virtually all Vermonters embraced – close your business, stay home from school, wear masks, “One death from Covid 19 is one too many”, he said. Right now Phil Scott should be telling all Vermonters to call their representatives and insist that they vote against the Affordable Heat Act, otherwise the economy will be devastated by fuel shortages and much higher taxes to pay for subsidizing heat pumps which won’t heat houses. His mantra should be, “One fuel dealer being forced out of business is one too many”.

  17. Why must these great “mandates?” $$$$$
    be called “Affordable heating bill???”

    A HUGE LIE !?!?!

  18. These committee members are nuts! 80% of Vermonters are living from paycheck to paycheck. No one can afford a 70 cent per gallon cost increase on home heating oil, propane, or kerosene.

    • Well yes, but then we leave VT and are replaced by wealthy leftists from NYC and California who CAN afford these prices and most importantly, will vote for leftists. Gotta consider their long term strategy.

  19. Playing with the “real” numbers:

    say you have an 800 sqft apartment/home
    Here are a couple of choices:

    1) Cost for you to retrofit with heat pumps = $7,000 to $10,000 upfront cost

    2) Keep your oil delivery
    800 sqft apt $0.70 per gallon fuel surcharge per year adds $330 per year onto heating bill for fixed and low income homeowner/tenants. Added to increase fuel, repair and maintenance costs this cost may increase exponentially.

    Note: 2021-22 oil $2.60/gallon (cost for above dwelling = $1,215)
    2022-23 oil = 4.55/gallon (cost for above dwelling = $2,126)

    Unknown future costs: How much will it cost to
    – replace heat pumps – how long do they last?
    – replace oil boiler? $4000?
    – repair heat pump?
    – repair oil burner?
    – cost of oil?
    – cost of electricity?

    Also take into consideration:
    – How quickly can you fix an oil burner in the middle of a cold snap? Answer: 1 hour tops

    Feel free to add to above info or refute it with proof… or your experience.

  20. We need to flood the emails and phone lines saying NO to this outrageous bill. People think, “I’m sure others are contacting their senators and legislators, I don’t have to do it”. We all have to it or these morons will pass it.

  21. It is puzzling to see members of the Vermont Republican Party express surprise over the supermajority Democrat/Progressive party passing bills they promised their constituents. It was the Republican Party’s deliberate strategy to field unelectable general election candidates with unelectable platforms, in order to appeal to a more conservative electorate in the primary.

    Given this approach, it should come as no surprise that the supermajority is now implementing the policies it campaigned on. It is a natural outcome of the political process and the preferences of the voters who elected them.

    While politics can be complex and unpredictable, in this case, the result seems to be a clear and direct consequence of the choices made by the Republican Party and the voters who supported them. Let us hope that in the future, we can avoid confusion and surprise by taking a more careful and informed approach to understanding the political process.

  22. Is Senator Bray a remittance man? How about McCormack and MacDonald? They must get the “easy” money to afford this themselves. My bet is they have a conflict of interest in all of this that will enrich their coffers just like committee member Jared Duval. The lowest form of politics.

  23. Glad I saw the handwriting on the wall 3 years ago when I moved to the free state of FLORIDA

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