by Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe)
Editor’s Note: the report below was sent by Stowe’s legislator to media, constituents and others on her email list. It is republished here because Rep. Scheuermann, as a Energy and Technology Committee member, offers a first-person look at legislation now being crafted that, if enacted, will change how Vermonters warm their homes for decades to come.
The House Committee on Energy and Technology, the committee on which I serve, has spent most of the last two weeks on a proposed Clean Heat Standard.
The Clean Heat Standard is the signature policy initiative brought to us by the Climate Action Council in their Climate Action Plan designed to help us begin to meet the greenhouse gas reductions required by the Global Warming Solutions Act that became law last year.
In a nutshell, it is the most dramatic shift in the distribution of heating fuels ever contemplated in Vermont and will impact Vermonters dramatically. The proposal would require Vermont’s heat suppliers and heating service companies to sell fuel and install heating equipment that lowers greenhouse has emissions. It would do this by providing Clean Heat Credits to any company that can demonstrate that their product or service reduces emissions.
If your company does the work, your company gets paid.
So, if a heating fuel or service company gets paid for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, who foots the bill?
Under a Clean Heat Standard, wholesalers of heating oil and propane and/or providers that take ownership of fuel when it crosses into Vermont would be considered obligated parties that would have to purchase “credits” obtained from those companies that sell both low carbon fuel and emissions reduction services. That means about 80% of all retail heating fuel providers that serve Vermont customers would be required to acquire credits or make a quarterly “alternative compliance” payment.
The good news is that most experts believe this will, in fact, reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and help us to meet the requirements outlined in the Global Warming Solutions Act.
And, it will provide much greater opportunities for Vermonters to purchase lower emitting fuel and/or install low or no carbon emissions heating equipment.
But, this dramatic shift in our home heating world won’t come without a cost to many Vermonters. As some Vermonters will be able to afford some of these more costly equipment changes, and some may think the higher cost of heating fuel is worth it for lower carbon emissions, there are many low to moderate income Vermonters – especially those living in older homes – who will find it very difficult to pay for the higher cost of heating fuel that will inevitably result.
At this time, our committee continues to do its due diligence to understand the proposal fully, and its implications on Vermont families and businesses. And, I look forward to that work continuing.