Watch Senate Appropriations discuss S.5 at 1:30 pm today

Committee may insist on ‘checkback’

By Guy Page

The Vermont Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to discuss and likely vote on S.5, the Affordable Heating Act, beginning this afternoon at 1:30 pm. The proceedings can be viewed via livestream.  

Some observers say Appropriations is likely to approve the bill but with a ‘check-back’ giving the Legislature a chance, in a year or so, to evaluate the costs to state government and consumers following a Department of Public Service analysis. 

With or without a checkback, S.5 would fund weatherization and electric thermal heat conversion programs with a fossil fuel surcharge – AKA a carbon tax – on heating fuel dealers bringing their product into Vermont. Since Vermont does not produce any oil, nor have any refineries, all fossil fuels must cross the state line. This surcharge would be passed along to the customer, in order to meet carbon reduction goals self-imposed by the Legislature’s 2019 Global Warming Solutions Act.

S.5 supporters say the bill would eventually save customers money as they convert to (they hope) less expensive, stable-priced electricity for thermal heat. Critics say the upfront cost of conversion would require anywhere from 70 cents/gal (the State of Vermont estimate) to $4/gal (Ethan Allen Institute). And that the cost of electricity is likely to spike as heightened demand outstrips supply. 

Meanwhile, a lively email conversation has ensued between senators who support the bill and Vermonters who don’t. Some of these back-and-forths have been shared with the Vermont Daily Chronicle. 

Bert Saldi, Barre: You legislators always say “we can fix it later if it is a bad Idea,” then you never do. We the people are tired of being used like cash cows for a legislature that can’t budget responsibly and gaslights us when we point out your failures.

Sen. Andrew Perchlik, D/P Washington County and a member of Senate Approps, responded:  I hear ya, but I’m not saying we will fix it if it turns out to be a bad program, I’m saying let’s design it and see if the design is a good idea. If there is a better way to deal with our unaffordable and uneconomic over reliance on fossil fuels, I’m all ears.

Saldi’s’s single-word response, a dismissive reference to a methane-producing bovine waste product, is not suitable for a family newspaper. But a carbon-copied acquaintance of his, a Johnson resident, jumped in: As long as you continue to make the world far too expensive for real working Vermonters to survive, we will engage the truly Free Black Market and obtain BY whatever means necessary the things needed to feed, warm and house our families.  If you want to know where to buy an illegal woodstove 5 and 10 years from now, don’t bother calling me…. I won’t sell to the enemy!!!

With all due respect….. Enjoy the brownouts and toilets that won’t flush!!!

Sen. Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) admitted in a recent email that hundreds of people have asked her to vote no – and then blamed it on fuel dealer lobbying. 

Over the past week since I told my constituents that I supported S.5, the Affordable Heat Act, I have received hundreds of emails, calls, and notes asking me not to vote for S.5. This is largely because fuel dealers also sent messages to their customers intentionally misleading you about how the Affordable Heat Act would work and what it would mean for Vermonters, and they told you to contact me to tell me to vote no on S.5.

Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment noted: VPIRG, VNRC, CLF combined report spending more than $30,000 in January. VBSR registered late in January so they didn’t report in January.  Seems like calling out the fuel dealer spending on ads is a bit disingenuous when the enviro orgs are in the same ball park in terms of their spending.

Hardy then cited two arguments disputed by S.5 critics:

Over the past two years, the average price of fuel oil increased by over $2 per gallon or 85%, forcing you to spend more to heat your home while fossil fuel companies have recorded record profits. The reality is that fuel companies are the ones raising your prices, not the Legislature.


S.5 would not require you, or any individual Vermonter or household, to do anything differently, but it would require fuel dealers to change the way they do business. It would require them to be part of the solution and help you heat your home more efficiently.

Critics of S.5 concede no one is legally forcing conversion to electricity – yet, anyway. However, it would certainly increase costs, regarded by some as an intentional form of coercion. Also, most critics of S.5 acknowledge the higher cost of fossil fuels but blame President Biden’s anti-fossil fuels policies (supported in concept by the Legislature) and the war in Ukraine – not oil company greed. In fact, Big Oil – in the form of Irving Oil – supports S.5. 

Categories: Legislation

13 replies »

  1. Senator Hardy just does not get it. Regardless of who, if anybody is lobbying the people of the state of Vermont to deep six this bill, it is the people of Vermont, her constituency, demanding it. It’s kind of an oddity, and maybe threatening to them when we the people are being lobbied rather than they, our legislators, and I guess that makes a lot of difference to them. I just wish that our lawmakers would keep at the top of their list of things to remember that they were sent to Montpelier to represent us, and that no matter their education, and/or life experiences, it is not their place to tell us what is good for us, at least not as long as we are a free people.

    • ms. hardy claims to represent Addison County. I purport she represents a minority of socialists in Addison County and is funded by VPIRG, CLF and others.
      You are right, something just isn’t clicking with this alleged senator.

      Participation in S.5 is not mandatory, in the same way participation in Efficiency Vermont is not mandatory. There is no legislative mandate to purchase electricity, but if one does, then one shall pay the “energy efficiency charge” as required by PUC Rule 5.300, authorized by the Vermont legislature, prior to ms. hardy’s arrival in Vermont from central NY.

      ms. hardy’s pretending and gaslighting needs to be given sunlight and exposure,
      her legislative desires do assuredly not reflect Vermont’s needs. Irving Oil’s, CLF VPIRG and the solar industries needs, perhaps….but not ours

      • We are being dictated to by a foreign body of non-Vermonters. The people have no lobbyists.

    • click on the word “livestream” in the paragraph above, Right now they are in a 15 min.break.

  2. We converted from all electric to propane a number of years ago and our heating bill decreased a lot!! Our propane bill has been VERY ECONOMICAL OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS because of low energy prices. Of course, increasing now. Won’t change again because there is quite a cost involved in switching (contractors, materials, qualified HVAC, unanticipated issues, debris disposal, etc.) It won’t be cost effective to do this again now. We’ll just have to pay the big bills. Good luck for people renting.

  3. It is very evident that these members of the climate cult religion have no intention of listening to their constituents. Perhaps the voters should keep this in mind next time around and probably some new heating costs will remind them in 2024.

  4. Maybe it’s a good time to tar and feather a few of these fringe alt left anti Vermont legislators if they refuse to listen to the majority of Working Vermont Families!!

    • Ahhh the good ole days ! When men were men, women were women, and there were “Statesmen” not duplicitous politicians under the Golden Dome !

  5. They passed it out of committee…only no votes. Bobby Starr and Dick Sears…at least someone had some common sense

  6. If I understand their vote it looks like appropriations passed it 4 to 3? Kitchel admitted thousands of people have protested with calls and emails yet they’ve completely ignored the people they’re supposed to serve. It sounds like there will be a little time before it takes effect but that’s little consolation. It breaks my heart because I love my home and the Vermont that was before these extremists took over. They’re afraid of climate change claiming it’s an existential threat, but they’ve refused to see the existential threat of S.5 itself. Legislators with eyes that refuse to see and ears that refuse to hear.

  7. If these politicians want this,then let the state of Vt pay for every household to be converted. Why do they want to put a burden on hard working Vermonters. Maybe some of us don’t have the money to switch over to electricity. And charging more for fees on oil is no better. Listen to what Vermonters want not what you want. We put you in office to speak on our behalf. Not on your opinion or belief. Listen to the people!! Also what happens in the real cold days when these electric heat exchangers can’t keep up with the cold temps. I looked into them and was told you need a backup on really cold days. Back to also needing a oil or gas furnace.

  8. I find it quite rich (pun intended), that they claim changing over your current heating system to one of the types “blessed” by the priests and priestesses of the green god, will eventually save you money. Not in my lifetime. I am 65 and my husband is 73. We do not have enough “lifetime” left to see any savings from this boondoggle. We also do not have enough savings and “disposable” income that is not currently being used for taxes, electricity, food, fuel oil, propane and wood, repairs and all the other things we need, to be able to afford converting our current heating systems (oil boiler furnace, wood stove and propane cook stove), to several mini-splits and their installation. One size does not fit all in any situation, especially this one. Our home is quite efficient and weatherization would do nothing to increase this. The priests and priestesses of the green god under the golden dome need to go back to genuflecting to their green idol and leave the rest of us alone!

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