Keelan: the S.5 train wreck has been temporarily postponed

Estimate for electric heat conversion at columnist’s home: $247,000

by Don Keelan

The good news is that the Norfolk Southern Railroad Company does not operate in Vermont. Although it might run as the part-ownership of CSX/PAR, but we are saved from the havoc NS created in East Palestine, Ohio. However, our train wreck is coming down the tracks: S.5, recently passed by a vote of 18-10 by the Vermont Senate. 

In a subtle move, S.5 will have all Vermont homes and businesses convert from fossil fuels to electricity. Its methodology is so convoluted and its implementation so costly that an amendment was attached, postponing its start for two years. During that time, the Agency of Natural Resources will study how the Bill’s complex structure will work or not work. 

More bad news was directed at certain Vermont Climate Council members, who had a large hand in seeing that S.5 got through the Vermont Senate. There are members of the 23-person council who would personally gain from the adoption and immediate implementation of S.5.  To have a direct conflict of interest was never a reason for not serving on the council. 

Regardless, my wife and I are considering converting our 200-year-old home and our transportation needs to all-electric. We determined that the train-wreck is coming, and we want to get ahead. We obtained cost estimates from our electrician and heating contractors, and from Tesla. Below are our discoveries:

  • Buy10 Mitsubishi heat pump units                                          $60,000
  • Provide Electric service to each pump                                       $8,000
  • Convert oil-fired furnace to stand-by mode                               $1,000
  • Replace kitchen Garland gas stove with electric                        $5,000                                     
  • Replace gas stove in den with pellet stove                                 $4,000
  • Replace 33amp Winco gas-fired generator with 
  • equivalent two-week backup battery storage  unit                   $60,000                                         
  • Provide new building for battery storage due to fire risk        $20,000
  • Add electric service to house for 200 amps                                $5,000
  • Replace all external garden/field gas equipment                        $6,000
  • Install a Level 3 charger in garage                                              $1,000
  • Replace two gas cars with Tesla, Model Y Longrange             $55,000 
  • Contingency/sales taxes at 10% of above                                 $22,000                                        

     Total estimated cost to do full-conversion to electric                  $247,000

There may be credits to off-set the above and the sale of our cars, one a 2002 Tahoe, and the equipment. However, we are doubtful anyone would want to purchase gas fired equipment knowing that they will be forced to convert at a future date. 

We will, however, no longer need to send dollars out of state to pay for 1,600 gallons of fuel oil and 600 gallons of propane. Instead, we will be sending more money, not only out of state but out of country, to Green Mountain Power’s parent company in Canada. 

After some soul searching, my wife and I decided that we have to ignore that the batteries to be installed in our house and car have material mined in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Upon further research, the mining is referred to as artisanal mining (by hand) and accomplished by men, women and children (read Cobalt Red). Moreover, the metals used to make the batteries are processed in Communist China under horrible working conditions. As long as such working conditions are not local, we can, at least for now, ignore them and get on with the conversion.

We have some issues to overcome before we can convert: will our tradespeople be available; will the supply chain meet our deadline; and most critically, where will we obtain $247,000? 

One can surmise that Vermont has a dozen train wrecks to deal with and more on the way. Why would the Legislature set another wreck in motion?  Could it be that out-of-state influencers are driving this train?

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary

10 replies »

  1. Will the furnace police be carrying weapons? What will the penalties be for non compliance?

  2. A severe case of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ — something Vermonters weren’t concerned with until it was overrun by those seeking the freedom to choose — by removing it and fining outliers.

    We are making dependents out of Vermonters, instead of self-reliance and freedom and independenet.

    Rube Goldberg would be proud.

    Two roads diverged in the woods…

  3. “Could it be that out-of-state influencers are driving this train?”
    Good grief. Of course they are. How do you think Ms. Balint got her dirty money ?

  4. The culture of legislators takes our votes to mean that they should rule us with their enlightened revelations. Law making is for molding the backward folks with our agendas…”for their own good”. Representing us…building consensus among us,,, is no longer part of the agenda in Montpelier. I suspect frequent (weekly?) contact from us about what we want/don’t want is going to be necessary to convert them back to an ethos of representing us. They need to know if they’ve got our backing or not. Isn’t it their job to convince us? [Bill #?? Am I convinced it’s good legislation yet? — yes/no]. Fill their in boxes.

  5. Electric heat. Yes, I remember it well. When I was in college I rented an apartment that had electric baseboard heat. It was expensive and not the least bit warm. I would sit huddled in a corner near the baseboard wrapped in a blanket trying to study. I don’t know how the new systems compare but I figure electric heat is electric heat and it is not a comfortable, warm heat. I would be very reluctant to convert for all of the reasons stated in this article plus the fact that the batteries that are so quietly tucked away in your basement or garage have a tendency to catch fire. So, with the safety concerns, the environmental concerns and the expense – I would sell my home and leave the state before I would convert. Leaving Vermont has been weighing heavy on my mind these days. The Legislative lunacy is just getting to be too over the top. I am a senior citizen, living on a fixed income and between taxing everything they can think of and suggesting oppressive ideas like this one – our lawmakers keep making it harder and harder to want to stay. I’d have to give up a home that I love, but I could live a lot cheaper somewhere else.

    • Fear not should you decide to leave you will quickly be replaced by two or three over zealous young people that have loads of mom and dads cash that think thy have the power to stop nature from doing what nature does

  6. Here we are fearing the possibility of Russia destroying us with a nuclear attack.
    Why should we worry? The Progs in Montpelier will beat the Russians to it, but in
    a more subversive and gradual fashion.
    Don’t laugh! Our incendiary representatives in the State House have plans to do it imperceptibly without one enormous explosion. Sneaky and surreptitiously.
    Start biting your fingers.

  7. “There are members of the 23-person council who would personally gain from the adoption and immediate implementation of S.5.” Enough said right there. Proof the State is run by unethical, immoral, corrupted, malignant swine with their snouts firmly planted into the trough of ill-gotten cash. The day of reckoning and judgement is upon them now. Declare and decree it.

  8. I’m a retiree that worked for CVPS during the hay day of electric heat and through the forming of Efficiency VT. A lot changed over that 33+ year adventure. S 5 is truly a “gamechanger.”
    Term limits and new faces in DC and VT is what’s needed. Vermont has rotated 180 degrees from the “good ole days” and until the majority of voters wake up I don’t see much changing in DC of Montpelier.

    • …”until the majority of voters wake up”…
      The way things have been dictated, we have no voice. They have taken over. They don’t care about The People, or The Law. They like their Power.
      And, The People? Good luck with that dream. I still get hate glares for not wearing the useless diseased ridden mask.