Roper: Conflicts of interest that lead to bad laws like the “Unaffordable Heating Act”

by Rob Roper

Ever heard of the Energy Action Network? Probably not. Their mission statement says they are a “diverse network of over two-hundred non-profits, businesses, public agencies, and other organizations working together in a collective impact framework… to help Vermont:

Meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act….”

Coincidentally, meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act will funnel billions of dollars into the pockets of that diverse network of non-profits, businesses, etc. So, yes, they are most definitely here to help with that process.

The Executive Director of EAN is Jared Duval. Duval is also a member of the Vermont Climate Council, the body that wrote the Climate Action Plan and recommended adoption of the Clean Heat Standard. Duval has been given more time than any other witness during testimony before the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee on S.5, the Clean Heat Standard bill. He has appeared four times for a total of roughly three hours. For comparison, fuel dealers who traveled to Montpelier to testify because they are going to be driven out of business by this law were given six minutes each.

Also on the board of EAN is Richard Cowart, who, surprise, is also a member of the Vermont Climate Council, appointed by the Speaker of the House. Cowart is a principal at the Regulatory Assistance Project. He is widely considered to be the lead architect and author of the Clean Heat Standard. His consulting business stands to make big bucks from packaging and pushing these policies on other states. Cowart has already pocketed multiple six figures selling repackaged versions of the work he’s done at Vermont taxpayers’ expense to Massachusetts.

Moving on, Darren Springer, General Manager at Burlington Electric, is also on the EAN board. Burlington Electric stands to make a pile of money – potentially hundreds of millions — selling “clean heat credits” to mom-and-pop fuel dealers (and their customers) just trying to survive. And what’s not to like if you’re an electric company and a law mandates the electrification of every aspect of a state’s economy? If you’re wondering while Burlington’s McNeil biomass power plant — that burns wood — is considered renewable energy under the Clean Heat Standard, well, wink wink.

Next we come to Brian Gray, owner of the Energy Co-op of Vermont, and whaddayaknow,  member of the Vermont Climate Council from 2020-2022.

Then there’s Sue Minter, and would you believe it? Yup, she’s a member of the Vermont Climate Council too.

The EAN Board of Advisors features Neale Lunderville, president and CEO of Vermont Gas Systems, nicely positioned to capture many multiple millions from the sale of  “clean heat credits” should S.5 become law. Incidentally, Lunderville is also on the board of trustees for Vermont Digger, Vermont’s largest news outlet, where he serves with, Mathew Rubin, the President of Spruce Mountain Design and developer and operator of renewable energy projects; another fellow looking at tidal wave of cash should S.5 pass. So, if you’re wondering why Digger has been oddly passive in its coverage of the biggest climate change and economy shaking story of our generation, this might be a reason why.

Like Rubin, Leigh Seddon of Solar Works stands to benefit mightily from the passage of a law mandating that citizens buy more of his products, and he is also on the EAN Advisory Board, along with Representative Gabrielle Stebbins, who’s other job is with the Energy Futures Group. Energy Futures Group (EFG). EFG is a clean-energy consulting firm, and we can assume a lot of people are going to need advice from experts like this should S.5 pass – advice supplied, I’m sure, for a very reasonable fee.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. EAN is just one of several organizations like it. And then there are our elected officials themselves….

Recently we saw Representative Caleb Elder (D-Starksboro) speaking passionately in the State House about a bill he is sponsoring. “The climate crisis,” said Elder, “cannot be put in abeyance by NIMBYism. We cannot complain about the degradation of our forests, the blight of our ecosystem. … So what is this bill going to do? It’s going to force new renewable energy development in state.”

Meanwhile, Elder’s campaign website boasts, “I have enjoyed 14 years working in the Renewable Energy sector in Vermont, including solar project development for homeowners, schools, nonprofits and businesses. I currently operate Elder Energy Services, LLC as a solar sales consultant.” So… yeah….

Elder is not alone.

Government Operations Chair Representative Mike McCarthy (D-St. Albans), is an employee of SunCommon, the VPIRG for-profit spin off that describes itself as a “Vermont-based installer of residential solar power systems.” Their website describes McCarthy’s job being part of “SunCommon’s community and commercial solar teams, finding ways to get our larger solar projects sited and financed.” S.5 will mean a windfall for McCarthy’s employer.

Representative Kari Dolan (D-Waitsfiled), is married to Chach Curtis, the Chief Financial Officer at SunCommon.

Senator Becca White, D-Windsor, lists her current employment as a cashier at her local food co-op, but also, according to her campaign website, works “part-time doing policy consulting.” She doesn’t say who she consults for, but given her past employment includes SunCommon, Efficiency Vermont, and VPIRG, and she is currently serving on the Natural Resources & Energy Committee busy writing S.5, the Clean Heat Standard bill, one can make a confident bet on who is paying her consulting fees.

There have been many solid, common-sense arguments made in opposition to the Clean Heat Standard bill. The estimates we have so far put the increased costs to a gallon of home heating fuel between 70¢ and $4.00. This is a crushing and regressive financial burden. We know that the labor force in Vermont does not exist to do the work mandated by the law. We know that creating and managing a “clean heat credit” exchange bank is too complicated for Vermont’s bureaucracy to handle. Do our legislators not hear these arguments? Do they have cotton in their ears? No. It’s money.

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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: Commentary

21 replies »

  1. Sadly, it sounds like there are a lot of impure motives in the Vermont state government in relation to this false god of global warming which is part of a wider plan called Agenda 21 to control citizens. This is happening in neighboring NY too where at least some citizens are waking up and pushing back.

  2. All these non profit groups haven’t taken the voice and freedom of Vermonters. Yes they are really helping out. Hmm.

  3. Roper is with the right wing think tank, The Ethan Allen Institute. So, he also has an agenda here. Also, like his cohort, John McLaughrey, there’s never a solution offered with these guys, typically, it’s always finger pointing.

    • Mr. Roper is, I believe no longer with EAI, but certainly has an agenda. That agenda is generally based on insuring good governance, our constitutional freedoms and has offered multiple solutions to many of Vermont’s problems, past present and future. McClaughry is at EAI- still writing and working to help Vermont. For perspective, check out EAI’s 2008 report “Off the Rails”.
      More to the point, Roper is bringing to light the compromised relationships current legislators have with others that benefit financially from these legislators votes.
      The term for that is political corruption.
      Apparently ethics won’t hold sway to this batch of socialist/ marxists.

    • And, you are with the left wing fanatics, what’s your point? Rob is pointing to the potential crony capitalism taking place for greed. The planet doesn’t need any of this. Wake up!

  4. Great work, Rob. Also of note is: “Darren Springer was appointed as Deputy Commissioner at the Vermont Public Service Department, leading the advancement of the 2014 net metering law and 2015 renewable energy standard.” — from his Bio. Another gift to the Renewable Energy industry and lobbyists. And higher rates for most electric users.

  5. Thank you for doing the research on this and putting it all out there, much appreciated. I don’t have a clue how many Vermonters are going to be able to absorb this crazy bill or any of the other insane bills these people are burdening us with.

  6. I’m happy to see real reporting from Rob Roper who as an independent investigative reporter has brought out the truth behind the climate scam currently taking form in Vermont. It is unfortunate that the overwhelming number of Vermonters are sheltered and censored under the bias mainstream progressive news corporation, non-profit organizations and government sponsored news from NPR and VPR. This is the type of free press reporting that makes cockroaches scramble when the lights come on! Good Job, Rob!

  7. The entire State of Vermont operates under conflicts of interest and unethical, immoral deeds. Every board, task force, commission, etc is filled with crony friends or relatives of the crony elected officials and/or legislators. Nearly every non-profit and/or NGO is subservient to the State/Federal government and it’s cronyistic system. The taxpayer is nothing more than a cash dispenser to run this corrupted grifter system called Vermont.

  8. But who cares about truth when there’s money to be made? Just as Fauci, Pfizer, Moderna and their ilk profited greatly from a hyped up “pandemic “ and dangerous ineffective “vaccines”, so too are the climate hysteria pushers profiting from their “solutions “ for non-problems. Besides the fact that climate change is ongoing, always has and always will be, there is zero evidence that humans are causing any significant amount of it. And even if we were, we could eliminate every last emission of CO2, methane etc from VT and it wouldn’t have the slightest impact on our climate. But they will drive Vermonters into poverty, unable to affordably drive or heat their homes in order to profit off of them.

  9. And….no one mentions the fact that Vermont is already a net zero carbon contributor. The holy grail is net zero and we are already here because of the high percentage of Vermont that is forested.

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