McCormick: Affordable Heat Act too costly, will be locked up in courts

Weatherization fee cheaper, reduces emissions sooner

by John McCormick

People are talking about global warming like never before. Mainstream news is helping us make the connection that extreme weather is the outcome of warmer oceans and atmosphere. This is not a drill.

Have we also begun to accept our demand for oil and natural gas is warming our planet? We can decarbonize how we drive and where we live. Electrifying your car or truck eliminates a yearly 4.5 to 6 tons of CO2 and weatherizing can reduce oil demand by 40% while continuing to rely upon oil as a backup. 

It is past time we had a serious conversation with our children. They demand we do something to fix it. They protest in streets, in courts and in legislatures. They vocalize a deeper understanding than we adults. They will likely live into and beyond the 2050s, enduring all the weather extremes arriving way ahead of prediction. 

Scientists are saying we can slow Earth’s fever. Leveling off — even slightly reducing — global CO2 emissions can have a positive impact in three to five years.

While we should make obvious lifestyle changes, let’s agree on the most sensible, at scale, thing we can do that will truly matter: Electrify everything we drive and live in. 

The Vermont Climate Council sent the Affordable Heat Act to the Senate without discussing its cost. The Agency of Natural Resources estimated it would increase fuel costs by 70 cents per gallon or $70 per 100-gallon delivery. The agency was criticized for its back-of-the-envelope estimate while the council provided neither evidence nor its own estimate. Cost is what the Public Utility Commission will determine during its 18-month study and then present it to the legislators. 

There is no certainty the Affordable Heat Act will become the law of the land when the 2026 General Assembly votes on whether to enact it, with the price tag attached. 

Then there is the matter of the judicial process. 

When the General Assembly approves the Affordable Heat Act. Gov. Scott will veto it. The Legislature will override. At which point the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association will immediately seek an injunction to stop implementation and file suit that S.5 is unconstitutional. The loser of that court decision will appeal. The loser of that appeal will make their argument before the Vermont Supreme Court. 

From 2026 to 2031, it will be locked up in the courts. Vermont’s plan to meet the Global Warming Solution Act CO2 reductions mandate will be in limbo.

Vermont needs an alternative. 

Vermont’s Weatherization Assistance Program is the logical alternative. It is a functioning state-funded CO2 reduction program providing grants for weatherization, heat pumps and pellet stoves to Low-Income Heat Energy Assistance Program clients that is funded by a 2-cent fuel fee. In 2020, the PUC recommended to the legislators that the Weatherization Assistance Program double the number of weatherizations. Middle- and upper-income families should also get very attractive incentives for installing efficiency.

You and I can’t install a heat pump. We call a contractor and wait months or longer. There just aren’t enough electricians, plumbers, laborers available to get right on it. Vermont is desperate to hire many more skilled laborers to do the job. 

Installing rooftop solar, attic insulation and heat pumps are demanding tasks requiring trained and capable workers. They are the front line in the global warming war. We have to respect and support them. Increase their salaries while they shift us to electricity. 

A bagel shop in Burlington is advertising for new hires at $25 per hour — about $5 more than the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program insulation installers are paid.

The Vermont Energy Investment Corp. and others are using state and federal funds to open training centers across the state. They need recruitment boots on the ground. The state can offer young graduates a recruitment program to enlist able and motivated non-college-bound students, fund their training, and subsidize them to the point of full employment. 

The private sector is also desperate for more technically skilled employees. This should be a collective effort among the affordable housing/homelessness advocates, the energy efficiency market and the Vermont Department of Labor. That is going to cost money and should begin immediately. 

Gov. Scott can work with the General Assembly to accelerate weatherization, recruitment and training by increasing the heating fuel fee. It expires next June 30.

Back in 2019, the PUC delivered another report to the General Assembly, detailing how to achieve CO2 reductions at least cost to Vermonters. It recommended doubling the Weatherization Assistance Program with a four-cent increase of the existing fee. The Weatherization Assistance Program wants to do more, if it could find more skilled workforce. 

The 2-cent fee “sunset” provides the stage to debate this alternative next January. The fuel fee will have to be reauthorized or the Weatherization Assistance Program will shut down. For the legislators, it’s a no-brainer — the Affordable Heat Act 70-cent increase versus the 4-cent fuel fee increase.

The author is a Bristol resident and director of the Louise Diamond Committee to Protect Next Generations

Categories: Commentary, Uncategorized

15 replies »

  1. While, I don’t agree with the majority of this article, I do agree that weatherization is a much better use of funds.

    If I don’t have to pay for as much energy or use as much energy and we have less of a problem to begin with (assuming anything but more money was a problem?).

    One thing I’d like to point out to everyone who says we must reduce carbon dioxide is that plants are nature’s way reducing carbon. In fact, they have a great benefit to all animal life, which is that they produce more oxygen something we vitally need. Interestingly enough the thing that a farmer pipes into their greenhouse is more carbon dioxide to increase the yield of their plants (and therefore more oxygen).

    In short, if you want to save the planet, just plant more plants and trees.

    • While the conclusion that the “Affordable Heat Act” unaffordability is well known, the author presents ‘facts not in evidence’ regarding his climate evangelism.
      The premise and foundational arguments made by all the climate zealots is based on assumptions, faulty modeling and projections to validate their theory.
      We live in a society where ‘fact’ is presented and accepted without thought or independent research. We have become too conditioned and lazy to validate theory-and merely accept what is presented.
      There are trillions of dollars to be made and fleeced from John and Jane Q Public by the climate evangelists- If we continue to accept ‘facts’ presented as true.
      Many of us do not accept these ‘facts’. The earth’s atmosphere continues to be made up of;
      78% Nitrogen
      21% Oxygen
      1% Everything else. CO2 is but .04% of the everything else, and man-made CO@ is but 3% of the total CO2 in our atmosphere.

      • Frank, the Affordable Heat Act is unaffordable. I am trying to derail it. Can we work together to achieve that? My commentary is not focused on global warming.

        What is your opinion on Vermont’s Weatherization Assistance Program?

    • Brian, put aside the CO2 and global warming.

      Since you do agree that weatherization is a much better use of funds, what is your opinion of the Vermont Weatherization Assistance Program? Perhaps we can talk about that.

      • I never said whose funds… Government handouts and subsidies are not beneficial in the long run. Stop taking the money from us in the first place and let us spend it more appropriately. If the government wants to get involved they can highlight the benefits and let the individual homeowner make a better more informed decision.

        Unfortunately the government is overrun with lying thieving 501c’s that are working for their own interests instead of those of the people so I doubt their education will be correct.

      • Brian

        Weatherization Assistance Program uses your 2 cents you pay for each gallon used. It is focused on the homes of Low Income Heat Energy Assistance Program clients that provides federal and State funds to bail out a household that does not have the funds to keep their home warm. How do you feel about those funds you and I pay to alleviate the discomfort of a cold house for a low income family that might include children?

        I am trying to prevent those same families and you from paying the extortionist increased fuel cost Affordable Heat Act will impose. And thoughts on that?

  2. I get a kick at all the global warming Crusaders, especially here in Vermont, even if the state was 100% carbon-free it wouldn’t make a difference. All these global warriors need to hold China, Russia, and India’s feet to the fire, as they spew more trash into the air in a year than Vermont will do in a hundred years, so until the Crusaders take
    on the real polluters, this is all nonsense……. follow the money !!

    Vermonters need to make their home as efficient as possible, it’s a long cold winter, fend for yourself, the world doesn’t care, as the Crusaders won’t mention that, as they travel the world polluting as they go…………………… Hypocrites.

  3. It is clear you fervently believe what you have so carefully written about Mr. McCormik. The legal hassles notwithstanding, is it possible, that the “science” might be incorrect? Is it possible, that all the data has not been forthcoming? Is it possible that because the topic is vast, covers many disciplines and is evolving that we only have theories and not clearly definable and measurable outcomes. Is it possible that we may be pushed into a mindset for a particular reason which has little to do with the actual climate? Do you know how many articles and papers written about this topic, you know, real scientific articles, the kind the average lay person would not read because it is incredibly boring and challenging, that can be dismantled in a quick glance by a trained scientist. I won’t use the word “debunked” as that seems to be a trigger for some. There are so many, if you’ll pardon my use of this term, red flags in this nonsense that it defies belief that so many people are just blindly following.
    And that so many trust what they read by nonscientists without taking into consideration that the author needs to get attention to their article and therefore may intentionally leave out important points because it won’t “sell”. That goes for all viewpoints, not just the climate crisis believers. It goes to the “deniers” as well. This isn’t hyperbole. It is not “settled” science. Anyone actually in a science-based field will tell you how often they get it, we get it, wrong. How often we have to go back and review and retest and redo because, we humans failed in the planning, assessment, implementation, evaluation of the topic or theorem.
    There’s a whole lot of Henny Penny thinking and acting going on in the world today. In many ways we are no better than our forebearers who thought the frickin’ world was flat.

    • Ah yes, this also reminds me about how all of the politicians that said “climate change” was their priority were immediately welcomed by the left and the progressives more importantly the media as the only option.

      That wouldn’t be by design would it?

    • Just flip the script – they switched from “safe and effective” back to “affordable clean, green energy.” Many people have no clue whatsoever what the despots have done “in the name of science.” Although, 17 million USA dead bodies since 2020 and millions more disable and injured (mostly younger people) should be a clue. Like the coof, they silence, censor, defund, and decertify any “professional” opinion that does match their narrative or they didn’t pay for with our money. By the way, the ice sheet in Greenland is growing and building. DOH! The only goal is to depopulate the planet and turn humans into genetically modified lemmings. Climate change means depopulation and indentured servitude from birth to death. Think: Blade Runner. For more details, research the WEF and the new world order. It’s all there for all to see. They are not hiding it at all and predictive programming got many to go along to get along.

  4. I would think that nearly every (shrinking) middle class person would love to save a few bucks here and there to help offset the rising prices of food and utilities. So I’m all for weatherization. But what I’m really in favor of is consumer choice. Let the markets decide. If something is worth it, it will catch on if folks can afford it and the ROI time isn’t ridiculous. If not it will fail. Simply, that used to be the American Way, for most non-government subsidized businesses at least.

    The point is, no one wants anything forced on them, be it masks, shots, war, the phony “climate crisis”, or an increase in their fuel oil prices. People generally don’t like being coerced into doing or supporting something, especially when they have very legitimate disagreements with the narratives.

    And even if you do believe in the CO2 narrative, as someone said earlier, plant trees. Require better gas mileage on new vehicles. I’m sure we can all think of many other options.

    But bigger picture, do you think tiny Vermont, with it’s miniscule “carbon footprint” has any effect on what happens world-wide? If you do, how do you feel about the 45,000,000 tons of CO2 released when we (allegedly) blew up the Nordstream pipeline? Volcanoes alone release some 280-360 million tons of CO2 per year on average. How about those?

    Might as well spit in Lake Champlain and sell it as “Humans are making the lake level rise”.

    • vtbean, it appears you actually read my commentary. Thanks.

      For some of the comments above, I can only say their single minded opinions don’t track what thermometers tell us. Earth’s oceans and atmosphere are holding more heat energy and thermometers are measuring temperatures that are killing sea creatures and forcing lobsters to find cooler waters north. Pakistan measured 131 degree Fahrenheit this past summer. Try picking cotton under that condition.

      • Mr. McCormick: the lobsters have been moving north for about 10,000 years or so – since the end of the last ice age. And only a fool would pick cotton when it’s 131 degrees Fahrenheit. But the greater foolishness, by far, is with those who believe the Affordable Heat Act is ‘affordable’, or that it will have any substantive effect on climate change. Even the lobsters aren’t that foolish.

  5. Affordable Heat Act, Affordable Care Act, Inflation Reduction Act, … isn’t it becoming clear to everyone that these acts do just the opposite of what their titles imply? Any directive that forces one person to transact business with another is suspect. Any exchange between two parties that is voluntary will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Any exchange between two parties that is forced on one or the other belies any chance of benefiting anyone but the enforcer.