Walch: Legislature should “make a plan” that makes us less reliant on electricity

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by Erica Walch

Two big storms in Vermont in seven days – one with wet snow that felled trees onto power lines, one with high winds that felled trees onto power lines. Pre-storms, Green Mountain Power notified customers they would be out in force to limit disruptions and fix downed lines.

At one point during the first storm, according to their web site, 163 of Vermont’s 251 towns had outages and as many as 120,000 people lost power. People were (and are, as I write this) without heat and water for days and dealing with food spoiled in fridges and freezers. For this latest storm (which is hitting the north more than the south and is thus getting more attention), heating stations are being set up and the Governor is warning people to be prepared for several days without power and that they should have a plan to go someplace that has heat.

“Make a plan” is the official message. Such widespread long-term outages seem to happen at least once per winter and negatively impact people’s lives in fundamental ways.

The push to change home heating systems from wood and standing-pilot propane to electric igniting pellet stoves and electric heat pumps is incomprehensible when the electric power in the state is so unreliable when it’s needed most – in the middle of a storm. The legislature has renamed the “Clean Heat Standard” to the “Affordable Heat Standard” but even if the proposal were clean or affordable, homes dependent on electricity for heat are going to be in peril at every long-term outage. Something that would make people’s quality of life better would instead be to increase weatherization programs in the state by raising the income limit for households to get free weatherization. That way more low-middle income working people who can’t afford a big weatherization loan can get the benefits of insulation and air sealing and their energy usage will decrease – and they could keep their existing heating systems, putting less demand on our unreliable grid. Or maybe the state could give every household a generator.

In this same seven day span, there was an earthquake in California, with the result of lost lives and 71,000 people having no power. California and Vermont have both made the pledge not to allow any new combustion-engine vehicles to be sold in the state after 2035. There’s no plan to improve electric supply or reliability. The electric grid is going to face more and more demand, and it will continue to be unreliable. If you go all-electric and the power goes out, you’ll have no heat, no water, and no way to leave your desolate, freezing house.

Vermont used to be known as a place where people had common sense. I don’t know what has caused the lawmakers in this state to ignore the very apparent problems of relying more on electricity; it’s like an Emperor’s new clothes situation and we’re going to be in trouble if the proposed heat standard goes through. It’s all well and good to tell us to “make a plan” (of course that press conference was only visible to those of us who had power at the time), but it’s about time the governor and legislature make a plan that isn’t further reliance on electricity.

Once your power comes back, you might want to contact your legislators about how foolish it is to steer the state into being more dependent on electricity.

The author is a Newfane resident.

Categories: Commentary

16 replies »

  1. What is interesting and incomprehensible at the same time is that Act 250 has put conditions into their permits for 50 years which blocked putting electric resistance heating in new homes. So we have a situation where instead of electric heat we have gas and oil heat because our state made us do it.

    • I have lived for 40 years in a house with electric heat. It was always too expensive to use and still is! I use wood with the electric as an occasional back up.

  2. Weatherization is pretty much nonsense. Now you can replace windows and tighten up drafts at doors, put barriers behind electrical outlets and stitches to cut basement drafts, but adding insulation is not really doable when you think of the disruptions inside a house as you cut holes in wallboard, or tear it out to put in new insulation… That and only that is part of real solutions. So stop the weatherization crap.

    • I was using the term “weatherization” to include insulation, which is how Efficiency Vermont and the Community Action groups use it — insulation and air sealing. I had it done at my old house and it has made a huge difference in my comfort and the amount of fuel I’m using (wood and propane)

    • @eletourneau

      Actually, most Weatherization jobs are not that disruptive. The biggest bang for the buck would generally be air sealing and insulating the attic which takes place solely in the attic.,Doing the same for the basement would be next on the list. Adding insulation to the walls would be further down in terms of effectiveness. Yes, that would indeed require making small holes in the walls but often people choose to have that done prior to residing the house or doing interior renovations.,Done right, Weatherization can result in significant energy savings and a much more comfortable house.

  3. I have a great plan! Don’t vote again for these fools in the State legislature whose stupidity has eliminated Vermont Yankee, coal, gas, and oil generated industrial power plants, skimped on infrastructure repair, and put a BS cap on internal combustion engines by 2035.
    I hope they live in a region where the power has been knocked out and that they freeze in the dark because their taxpayer funded EV won’t run in cold weather to take them elsewhere…

  4. These legislators who have come from out of state appear to be the same people responsible for the instructions on a bottle of shampoo or a coffee cup to tell them the contents are hot. These are the educated fools amongst us who rally to boost their egos and run for the legislature to virtue signal us into danger. The same people who have no idea how things work or how to fix anything.

    These are the people who shuffle their responsibilities over to boards and commissions after passing insane laws that won’t work for the people so they can’t be held to blame. Then they appoint people to the boards and commissions who will profit from the insanity they created. The people who are not elected which is unconstitutional but that doesn’t matter in Mount stupid.

    Now, if we had a real governor, he would march over to the
    Vermont house and senate, raise his voice from the usual monotone octave and tell these icons of virtue that he will sue them as a group to stop the climate insanity and to exercise their first obligation which is to protect the people of Vermont from harm. The governor is there because people also vote for the same people above and for the governor whose number one obligation is to protect the state and it’s people.

    Apparently, mother nature has it’s own plan and if you are a none thinking person like most of the voters, maybe it’s time to pay attention before the actual danger hits you and your family in the face with nowhere to go, no way of getting there and no heat or food to survive. True and actual Vermonters have known this since the beginning of Vermont. To continue on this path of destruction is your fault. It appears that since we are living through the idiot apocalypse that things will have to get worse before they get better. The circle of insanity who believe that they can change the course of mother nature climate will have to dine at the Karma Cafe. At that point it will be too late to choose what menu item they will be served.

    • The idiot voting majority of Vermont re-elected the Governor but completely dis-empowered him by delivering a veto-proof majority of demoprog marxists to the legislature. Vermonters have become masochistic socialists who are so into virtue signaling that we even do it in the anonymity of the voting booth. All our problems could be solved if the liberal virtue signalers voted for republicans and just told their friends and neighbors that they didn’t.

  5. I truley believe that this climate idiots think that by going all EV, etc. that we will never have anymore severe winter storms!

  6. Does this change anyone’s thinking on electric vehicles and laws to force them on everyone. Our power delivery systems and grid are already challenged, and that is before we add the additional massive demands of EVs.

  7. Unfortunately many people died in their cars in the Buffalo area storm. I wonder how many of those vehicles were electric and ran out of juice which prevented them from getting any heat, or possibly even out of danger before the storm hit.

  8. The climate change/save the world politicos know very well what they’re doing. And, they’re getting rich doing it. When they get done ruining VT, they’ll take their riches and power and goes somewhere else and continue to get richer while ruining another state. They can afford the higher costs of living. Many politicians believe they’re above the laws they create, so they will have wood stoves or furnaces, generators, solar panels and battery backups, gas powered vehicles, many of the things they declared illegal to own. They and their sponsors, the renewable energy industry, cleverly use money to create and fund grass root organizations to indoctrinate/fear monger the public against nuclear, coal, and gas power generation. That’s how VT lost Vermont Yankee Power. The sponsors pay people to come up with schemes for politicians to enact, but prevents the enactors being liable or having power to rescind. They did their homework and carefully laid their plans. Now, VT and many other states are going to pay dearly.

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