Roper: Potentially deadly consequence of Clean Heat Standard

By Rob Roper

Many of the businesses that deliver fossil-based heating fuels (oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene) in Vermont are small, mom & pop operations. Some, as describe by Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, are just one person “with a truck and a cell phone.” These companies exist on the margins of financial viability. The Clean Heat Standard now being contemplated by the legislature as part of the Global Warming Solutions Act will drive many these fuel dealers out of business – and where will that leave their customers?

Rob Roper

Testifying before the House Energy & Technology Committee, Paul Beauregard of OnSite Propane, put it bluntly, “There are a lot of us out there who are smaller providers in the marketplace, and your clean heat credits will put us out of business. We’ll be out of business day one. And those people serve, I would say, twenty-five percent of the market…. we’ll just be gone. And it will literally leave tens of thousands of Vermonters scrambling immediately to find a provider.” (YouTube, 2/2/22)

Beauregard’s company employs six people and serves about 1600 homes. The average fuel dealer, he said, serves about 2000 homes, and if one third to one half of those businesses close down because of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), it would mean 60,000 to 100,000 Vermonters will be left “scrambling to find a new provider” (2/2/22)– which may not exist. The remaining suppliers in such a scenario do not have the capacity to absorb that many customers, and since the goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to eliminate in the not-too-distant future all fossil fuel use for heating, nobody in their right mind would invest in increasing their capacity to deliver fuels that will be de facto illegal in a decade. A lot of customers looking to stay warm through the winter may just be out of luck.

But, at the same time, the goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to switch homes and businesses over to electric heating options, such as cold climate heat pumps, and in many cases will provide subsidies for those who wish to do so. So, if you can’t find fuel for your old heating system, just get a new one!

The problem here – especially for those Vermonters who can no longer find anyone to deliver them oil or propane, etc. – is that there is not a labor force in Vermont capable of installing heat pumps fast enough to retrofit all those homes. Even if all goes according the best laid plans of the Climate Council, they admit meeting their goals for electrification of the home heating sector will require a five-fold increase in the labor force. And let’s be realistic, that is not going to happen.

So, what our legislature is doing here is destroying the old home heating business model before the new government approved system can realistically take its place – if it ever can. The consequence of this is that we could see a significant number of Vermonters who don’t have access to any working heating source for an extended period of time. This doesn’t seem like a solid policy decision for a place with six months of winter.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Categories: Commentary

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7 replies »

  1. The Vermont legislature has a vast history of ignoring unintended consequence, this is but another example- that could have deadly results.
    The Mom & Pop fuel dealers are vitally important to Vermont, although those relying on natural gas or electricity have no clue. As consolidation of the fuel buisness continues, especially with propane- the major players have bought out the Mom & Pops, leaving residential customers stuck with high costs and fees for heating fuel. Amazingly, the “green” evangelists have moved to restrict natural gas as well- Burlington being a front runner- in adding a fee for it’s use. Bristol recently rejected allowing VtGas to operate in the town. So electricity is the pipe dream, with heat pumps (the mini-split variety) being the go- to to save the planet. Except as Mr. Roper points out, there’s not enough tradesman to install them, and as Wilem Post has reminded us- these units are extremely inefficient below 10 degrees F.
    The entire GWSA debacle is legislators listening to lobbyists for biased opinion to “fix” a problem that may not even exist. Last I knew, the Vermont Constitution called for legislators to be accountable to the electorate, not the lobbyists cash contribution to their campaign fund.

  2. Electric heat? Are you insane? Even during the height of the Enron scandal in CA, former Gov Dean explained that there are electric utilities in VT whose rates have been, were, and still are higher. These politicians are completely disconnected from the basic economic reality of the average Vermonter.

  3. This is an utterly unworkable, impractical, costly and damaging set of ideas. Actually, it is incredible that we are here discussing or debating such stupid thinking.

  4. For those who have nothing to compare to, my wife and I built our first home in1982. Electric heat was all the rage for new construction and less expensive to install. These were the Jimmy Carter years just before Reagan and mortgage interest rates for our first home was 14%. Our payment was $450.00 a month estimate so we opted for electric heat. It wasn’t very long before we took out another loan to have a chimney and woodstove installed. The electric rates were unaffordable for a young couple in their first home. Now, does anyone really believe that it will be any different this time after they get as many suckers as they can to buy heat pumps? We know that none of this makes any sense at all but we are dealing with a totalitarian legislature that no longer represents the people or follows our constitution. We have taxation without representation again. People better start voting as though their lives depend on the outcome because it does. These people are bought and paid for by the climate conglomerate here to make money on the climate hoax. No one can change the climate or the weather except mother nature. Stop being so gullible and start thinking. That’s why you were issued a brain at birth.

  5. They are stuck on double stupid. Most Vt homes have baseboard heating that operate at 140 degrees from a boiler. The only cold weather heat pumps that supply hot water operate at best 110 degrees. In zero weather they produce even lower temperature water. Thus, telling people they cannot heat with fuel oil, freezes them. Its time to tar and feather these people and run them out of Vt on a rail.

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