Clean Heat Standard will have Vermonters paying 70¢/gal. more to heat their homes – at least

by Rob Roper

Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore this week pulled back the veil on what the cost of the proposed Clean Heat Standard, S.5, would cost Vermonters, and it’s a really big check.

Moore calculates that the $2 billion-plus program over the remainder of the decade will mean an additional 70¢ per gallon for home heating fuels. Given that the average Vermont household uses 700 gallons of fuel oil per year, the Clean Heat Standard represents for the average family a $500 per year carbon tax to stay warm in winter. This Moore says will rise steadily as Vermonters use fewer fossil fuels as a result of the program, but she hasn’t modeled out what those future cost impacts might be.

Moore arrived at her figures by identifying the costs of actions that would need to take place under the law, should it pass, adding up those receipts, and, after accounting for federal money, and costs borne by private entities, and determined what the impact would be on the 250 million gallons of fossil-based heating fuels Vermonters use each year to raise that much revenue.

The Clean Heat requirements Moore cites are, by 2030: 85,000 homes weatherized at $10,500 each ($890 million), 145,000 heat pumps installed at $5000 each  ($725 million), and 125,000 heat pump hot water heaters at $3,000 each ($375 million) for an estimated gross cost: $2.0 billion.

But here is why Moore’s estimate is a low ball.

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As she admits, it her numbers do not include administrative costs of running the Clean Heat Standard, which, given the complexity of the program and the credit system it imposes, will certainly run into the tens of millions annually.

Nor do her numbers reflect other categories of actions called for under the Clean Heat standard. Although weatherization, heat pumps, and water heat pumps are the big three, S.5 calls for measures to take place across eleven specific categories of action, including replacing appliances (gas stoves, etc.), installing solar water heating systems, advanced wood heating, and even using green hydrogen.

She assumes that fuel dealers will absorb 25 percent of the cost of the credits, passing on just 75 percent to customers. That seems like a lot to eat, especially for the small mom and pop fuel dealers in Vermont.

Additionally, and this is a considerable absence, Moore’s numbers don’t account for the cost of any social safety net programs that will be necessary to mitigate the impact of higher prices on low income Vermonters – either for those still using fossil fuels by choice or necessity or for those who will experience spiking electric bills as a result of switching.

S.5 is explicit in demanding that “it shall minimize adverse impacts to customers with low income and moderate income….” The bill doesn’t say how to do this, but it must be done. For fossil fuel customers the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) already exists, though it would surely need companion state program to cover these increased costs. However, there is no LIHEAP equivalent for electric bills. That program would have to be created from whole cloth, and how much it would cost and where the money would come from is anybody’s guess. For the winter of 2021-22, LIHEAP subsidies in Vermont came to $47 million.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Categories: Energy

30 replies »

  1. Not only are these figures a low-ball estimate and have not accounted for all the omissions mentioned there is no indication that there will be the electrical energy available to power the pumps, fans, etc. associated with heat pumps, etc. How much energy is currently available to meet our needs today. When all of these changes occur how much energy will be required to meet the needs? Where will that energy come from? Can all areas of Vermont be supplied? Will more transmission lines be necessary?

    And, a big AND, depending on where they will be pumping the heat from and into the homes (soil or air), will they be efficient enough to provide the heat necessary in a climate like Vermont’s.

    As temperatures drop there is less heat in the air to be captured. The heat pump’s efficient drops, usually around 40 degrees, that means you use more and more electricity as the weather cools to extract the little heat available.
    If you have friends or relatives living south of Vermont and they heat with heat pumps, ask them what their costs are and if they can keep warm enough to be comfortable.

    Will emergency generators be allowable? Will there be a penalty fee for having one? Vermont has a reputation of being susceptible to widespread energy outages during winter storms. This is really important if there is an invalid in the home.

    The legislature should realize that just because you have the votes, and are veto proof, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do due diligence when preparing proposals and passing laws.

  2. Has anyone considered that since heat pumps both heat and cool, the annual energy demands will greatly increase since they’d basically be mandating that everyone buy a nice new air conditioner? Most people I know simply open the windows during Summer, but also complain when it’s a mere 80 degrees outside. They’ll probably just close the windows again, and turn on that pump.

    I predict an unpredicted consequence here.

    It will be far from the only one.

  3. Past history regarding Vermont’s pie in the sky ideas tells us typically the costs are low, by factors of 2 to 50. This plan will not be the exception. First year tax will predictably fall close to the $0.70 estimate- and 2024 is an election year, so increases will be small- but after that, there is no limit to the increases needed to “sustain” this unsustainable idea. Health care, education and the results of myriads of development control laws bear this out. The phrase “unintended consequences” is a legislative cop-out and excuse for the damage of past and present programs such as this one, but it isn’t unforeseen nor unintended at all.
    Hundreds of Vermonters have written thousands of articles and opinion pieces that are easily accessed and read by anyone- apparently except our leftist/elitist legislators clearly warning this “Clean Heat Standard” will permanently harm Vermont’s economy and it’s citizens for the unattainable promise of carbon reduction. All this while China, India and Europe increase their consumption of coal into the tens of billions of tons- and Vermont will absolutely be required to increase it’s purchase of hydrocarbon produced electricity as well, to power the gimmicks forced upon us by an ignorant legislature.

  4. You can stay and complain, but it is past due time to move out. I was looking. but the pace has increased. Vermont is not the Vermont I moved to in the ’70’s. Too many bad people moved in, got elected, ruined paradise. If only they had left us alone.

  5. This type of ignorant legislation is out of control, either we rise up, organize, fight back, stand strong and oppose this imposition or more of us will end up leaving
    I am already discovering that more conservative members in my community are leaving the state..
    Let’s take more initiative actions, and not just blog or rant about it.

    God Bless Us

    • I think that is their plan. I know when I am not wanted, Vermont has become what NJ was 50 years ago and it is time to find a new home. It is not too difficult, there are many states that have lower taxes, better weather, cheaper homes, better employment, and strongly republican. Vermont also has ticks now.

    • Leaving Vermont seems to be a likely option, but remember; this is exactly what ‘they’ want. ‘They’ want to price us out of here, so ‘they’ can have Vermont for themselves along with other states in New England which have the highest ‘jab’ rates in the country; by design.

  6. This is what Vermont gets with a largely uninformed, gullible, and apathetic citizen voting population. It’s almost a cult like status for these people. What will now transpire is continued outrage by these very same people on the cost of living, the unlivable wages and the lack of affordable housing. What these constant complainers won’t do is connect the dots via on the consequences of their voting patters that lead to this result (it’s always someone else’s fault). It’s a pattern exploited by Progressive to rule their constituents and to drive their dystopian outcomes. And it happens right under the noses of these enabling people.

    • The problem lies in the fact that Big Daddy government is a godhead to an awful lot of Vermonters. I would say it’s their choice to be this way, but overall, I object on account of the impact it’s having on my life and the lives of others who have a moral compass.

  7. Was S5 dreamed up by Dream Works or nightmare works? Just another unfunded mandate adding to cost of housing. The costs for insulating, heat pumps and hot water show who is behind this sham. Is that person saying the taxpayers are going subsidize new homes? Oh no, we will add to the wealth of the corporate lobbies.

  8. WE have to stop electing these tax and spend idiots. Everyone should know by now what Vermonters are sending to Montpelier. Get rid of them and let’s get reasonable people in office.

    No, there aren’t any.

    Top Climate Scientists Slam Global Warming “So-Called Evidence” as “Misrepresentation, Exaggeration and Outright Lying” – The Daily Sceptic

    “Facts omitted by those who argue there is a climate emergency include that CO2 levels were over 1,000 ppm for hundreds of millions of years and have been as high as over 7,000 ppm; CO2 has been declining for 180 million years from about 2,800 ppm to today’s low; and today’s low is not far above the minimum level when plants die of CO2 starvation, leading to all other life forms perishing for lack of food.”

    Climate scams are the reason we are suffering fertilizer shortages, food shortages, energy shortages, economic decline, high unemployment.

    Your lies are killing us.🤬

  10. Normal people don’t run for office. They’re busy putting out the fires these politicians keep starting. How the hell could anyone decent find the time to run for office? And then enlist their friends, whom are equally overwhelmed with keeping up? Most competent people are busy and tired.
    I’m disabled, but were I to run for office, they’d find hundreds of things about me to ruin my good name… a person who has a squeaky clean record and has been knocking himself out to stay above water for decades, coming from a low income family. I’ve got a decent education, but only an Assoc Degree in General Sciences for which I earned a Summa Cum Laude in 2018. They’d likely report on what a holy roller I am and go digging for sins.
    But hey… if y’all are that serious. Send someone my way to begin the procedure to be a conservative candidate. I know how to balance a checkbook. That right there will disqualify me on the grounds of Patriarchy or something.

    • RGB, please please DO run. Your excuse of them ruining your good name doesn’t hold water. So what if they find fault with you. They found fault with me as they do everyone who wants to put a stop to the liberal agenda but we must develop a backbone, keep strong, and keep pushing on. We’re desperate for people who care. No experience needed except that you want to rectify this agenda of madness by people who could care about Vermont (never mind the whole US).

  11. Sick people belong in a medical institution; not a law making institution.

  12. “I think it’s time we STOP children. What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s goin’ down”. Refuse to comply to this madness. This makes the poor poorer. We are a rural state with abundant resources in technology and brain power. New generation nukes not massive wind turbines from Maine, and other nonsense, must be championed.

    • Excuse me MrMs pissed VTer! It’s so easy to criticize when you’re likely not involved or even reveal who you are! The GOP has functioned on a skeleton crew and low funds for so long and help is requested but rarely received!!! The problem is not electable Republicans but people who don’t care and continue to vote in their familiar party (D) without giving it a thought (I know–I talked to many who just don’t pay attention or vote for whomever is ‘nice’. It’s also a rigged system. Besides that, many (R’s) have given up and won’t run. I can’t blame many who decided not to vote this time because it seems that our votes no longer count unless you’re a (D)!

      • Your comment points out the shortcomings of the VTGOP. There are some long serving legislators, elected officials, and tenured bureaucrats who continue to poo-poo sentiments such as yours and others. At the same time, there are Democrats, Independents, and moderate centerists who know this country, and this State, are way off track and seriously wrong. A change is coming as the Truth will prevail. Those holding seats of power on either side will be exposed and removed – some quite suddenly. Above all, do not lose faith in humanity. Here is where we are now:
        Ephesian 6:10-20 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

      • Melissa Casey-So I’ve pointed out the shortcomings of the VTGOP? YES so why don’t more people get involved to help? I too, am a Christian so I understand that prayer and declaring God’s Word is most important yet the Lord expects His army to GO DO the work as well (As in “Do not hide your light under a bushel…” & more). We are overrun with Dems/Progs/liberals of all types. They are too good at blaming us for exactly what THEY are doing. Would the Church kindly stand up & help?!

      • You are right – good question – where is the Church or religious leadership? Compromised? Perhaps they are the same as the elders, priests, and scribes who stood aside at the persecution of Jesus. The God today is the same as then. Until people get a full gut of gut punches, they won’t stand and they won’t budge from their safe spaces. Even in the Revolution, there were many who dared not defy the crown. Freewill and the consequences thereof is as it will be. Let the opposition destroy itself – they are doing a fine job from what I can see and hear. The implosion is going to happen…2000 years of rises and collapses prove it to be so.

  13. If you think we are dumb enough to get on the “Liberal ELECTRIC GRID” so you can pull the plug at you leisure, you’re CRAZY!

  14. I’m beginning to wonder if all this is all somehow connected to the very fake “family realty” (aka hedge fund) businesses who relentlessly send me unsolicited letters to buy my forest acres.

  15. This is more taxation to pay for they’re friends who operate all these “green” businesses. Follow the money.
    Why aren’t they taxing wood stoves and wood. Burning wood is still dirtier than natural gas. I would love natural gas but they won’t come install it. It is located all around me within site.

  16. These people are so corrupt they are not even embarrassed by their proposals. It took less then this to for 1776 to kick off. Unfortunately they were people with courage, who knew right and wrong. Few of them exist today, so Vermont and most of the nation will fall as Rome did.