Roper: Burlington heat fine shows where GWSA is heading

By Rob Roper

As the Vermont legislature shepherded the Global Warming Solutions Act into law, we at the Ethan Allen Institute pointed out some of the many possible places the law could lead: the banning of ATVs, snow machines, and other fossil fuel burning recreational vehicles, the banning of gas powered lawnmowers and lawn maintenance equipment, fireplaces and barbeques, etc.

One of the red flags we raised concerned oil and gas heating systems and the possibility that they could be banned from new construction, renovation, or with the sale of a property. Well, on that front Burlington has fired the first shot.

On Oct. 6, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger sent out a press release announcing a “Building Electrification Proposal to Dramatically Reduce New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Construction.” It does this by imposing a monstrous fee and regulatory hurdles for anyone daring to install or connect to an oil or gas heating system. As the memo states:

In pathway one, a new building does not connect to fossil fuel infrastructure and, therefore, no further requirements apply during the permit process. In pathway two, the new building connects to fossil fuel infrastructure and, therefore, the owner would pay a ‘building carbon fee’ of $100 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to the expected emissions for the first 10 years of building operation. This process would repeat every 10 years until the building no longer is using fossil fuels. The building also would be required to be constructed as ‘electric ready,’ so it can add electrification technologies in the future.

The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association noted that at the rate of $100 per metric ton, a gallon of oil heat would pay a carbon tax of $1.02 per gallon. The average home uses 700 gallons per year, which means the average Burlington homeowner would have to pay an upfront fee of $7,140 for the privilege of staying warm over the following decade of winters, plus whatever the costs would be for installing that unused/unneeded electric infrastructure. And Burlingtonians wonder why the cost of housing is beyond the income levels of so many of its residents — and why nobody wants to build enough housing to meet demand!

Get ready for this and policies like it to come to your community when the GWSA’s 23-member Climate Counsel starts making recommendations for how Vermont can meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates. Home heating and transportation are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont, and the only way to meet the goals of the new law are to curb home heating and transportation. The only ways to do that are to ban these things outright or make them so prohibitively expensive that they may as well have been outright banned.

In other news, California just announced they will be banning the sale of cars and trucks that burn fossil fuels in 2035. How far behind will Vermont be?

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

24 thoughts on “Roper: Burlington heat fine shows where GWSA is heading

  1. GSWA MANDATES implementing the VT-CEP, which includes more wind turbines on 2000 ft-high ridge lines in Vermont.

    That would create massive environmental damage, a la Lowell Mountain, due to:

    1) Building 50-ft wide access roads, each several miles long, and
    2) Placing highly visible, infrasound producing, 500-ft wind turbines on PRISTINE ridge lines.

    Here is a report regarding wind power in Washington State.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/12/washington-state-blows-away-wind-fantasies/

    The Northwest has spoken loudly as the Benton Public Utility District (BPUD) has documented its actual battleground experiences with intermittent electricity from wind that should be a wake-up call to policy makers

    The Washington State utility 16-page report titled “Wind Power and Clean Energy Policy Perspectives” of July 14, 2020 provides a devastating counter attack to the wind lobbyists.

    The report doubts the efficacy of wind farms for power generation.
    It analysis resulted in the utility’s commissioners saying they “do not support further wind power development in the Northwest.”

    Kudos to this Washington State public utility for speaking up after seeing the costs and dangers of California’s experience with an over-reliance on intermittent electricity from wind and solar.

    In a press release statement and in the report, the utility said overly aggressive clean energy policies bring about an unacceptably high risk of power grid blackouts.

    They go on to say the development of wind may be “politically fashionable” and appeal to many in the general public, but science and economics and ACTUAL EXPERIENCE show attempting to power modern civilization with intermittent electricity from wind and solar comes at a high financial and environmental cost.

    The report is consistent with what has happened in Germany and Australia, as power prices in Germany are among the highest in Europe. Today, German households pay almost 50% more for electricity than they did in 2006.

    Shockingly, America, from California to New York, continues to take giant steps toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up call for governments everywhere.

  2. I like the information that Willem Post puts out. The only thing I’d respectfully like to counter is the idea that the state charge a yearly fee for vehicles that get less than 25 mpg. People who get greater than 25 mpg are being rewarded with lower fuel bills and those who are getting less are paying more for their mode of transportation. It’s somewhat self correcting and I figure… it’s my fuel that I bought with my money…. I should be able to consume it how I see fit. Whether it’s in my truck, snowmobile, lawnmower or generator or home heating unit….. the government doesn’t need to be messing with me beyond the already exorbitant taxes they charge on fuel.

    • Justin,
      We should all be glad to know the taxing of Vermonters serves merely to prop up the MUCH-TOO-LARGE Vermont State Government, with Dem/Progs commanding and controlling a budget of $7.5 BILLION per year; that budget was only $6 billion a few years ago.
      GSWA would make the State Government even larger and even more INTRUSIVE

      Vermont gas-guzzlers, say less than 25 mpg, EPA combined, should have a tax.
      The more below 25 mpg, the higher the tax.
      That would more quickly shift annual vehicle-buying to higher-mileage vehicles and EVs.

      People who drive higher-mileage vehicles, say greater than 30 mpg, EPA combined, are likely to buy EVs or plug-hybrids, such as a 54-mpg Prius.

      See fig ES-1 of URL
      https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/Feebate-Study-Report-10-15-2019-Final.pdf

      1) Figure ES-1 shows about 80% of Vermonters purchased lower-mileage vehicles, i.e., less than 30 mpg, EPA combined, during 2016, 2017, and 2018.

      Those vehicles (such as SUVs, crossovers, ¼-ton pick-ups) usually have all-wheel-drive, or 4-wheel drive.
      They are most useful to Vermonters, especially during winter conditions.

      2) Figure ES-1 shows about 20% of Vermonters purchased higher-mileage vehicles., i.e., greater than 30 mpg, EPA combined, during 2016, 2017, and 2018.

      Those few, eco-conscious, Vermonters are likely candidates for replacing their higher-mileage vehicles with EVs.

      EV adoption likely is “not taking off”, because the EVs being marketed are: 1) too expensive, if they have larger batteries, 2) lose up to 40% of range during cold weather, and 3) are unsuitable/insufficient for Vermonters’ needs and Vermont road/climate conditions.

      • You can’t really complain about democratic/progtessive tendencies when you propose something that fits into their playbook, levying a sin tax on something you see no point in owning. Your assertion re vehicles (such as SUVs, ¼-ton pick-ups) ‘that are useful to Vermonters during winter conditions’ shows limited comprehension of the utility of these vehicles. The statement ‘those few Vermonters likely are replacing higher-mileage vehicles to EVs’ cements this impression, and adds minimal practical knowledge of the realities of work outside of the confines of a city or town. You may take your tax idea elsewhere, perhaps California, as much as you claim to dislike it’s policies, would love it.

        • Hank,
          I think you misread my article.
          You need to read the cited URLs.

          NOTE: The current EVs being marketed definitely cannot economically replace the vehicles that Vermonters prefer/need to drive, because of conditions. Eco-conscious owners of IC vehicles, with 30 mpg or higher EPA combined, are the people who buy EVs. About 50% of EV buyers are eco-conscious enough to also have solar panels. A high tax to force people with IC vehicles to abandon their preferred vehicles, would be an imposition.

  3. A RATIONAL ALTERNATIVE FOR VERMONT INSTEAD OF GWSA

    CALIFORNIA: California has had a GWSA law since 2006, which resulted in:

    – Rapid increases of electric rates and gasoline prices
    – Huge DUCK-curves, due to midday solar electricity surges
    – Unwise/untimely/political/ideological shutdown of gas plants, which resulted in rolling blackouts, when, during a multi-day heat wave, solar disappearing in late-afternoon/early-evening (DURING PEAK HOURS), and not reappearing until mid-morning THE NEXT DAY, while all that time wind was minimal.
    – A host of rules, regulations, taxes, fees and surcharges, and penalties to enforce behavior modification programs

    With high levels of weather-dependent wind and solar, huge storage (multiple TWh) would be required.
    That storage would cost several trillion dollars, if materials could be found to build such capacity. It would need to cover:

    1) Single and multi-day heat waves over large areas
    2) Wind/solar lulls throughout the year, as frequently occur in New England
    3) Short-term and seasonal variations.

    The ADDITIONAL environmental impact on millions of acres with wind and solar systems, would be enormous all over the US.

    It would be much better to build millions of PASSIVHAUS-style buildings all over the US.
    They would need only 1/3 the energy of the current energy hogs.

    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-vagaries-of-solar-in-new-england
    http://www.truenorthreports.com/welcome-to-hell-says-california-policy-expert-where-global-warming-solutions-act-passed-in-2006

    VERMONT: For Vermont, the only thing that makes any sense is to stop “emulating” California.
    Vermont should immediately scrap GWSA, and concentrate on:

    1) Energy conservation
    2) Energy efficiency
    3) Building net-zero-energy, and energy-surplus houses and other buildings, by the thousands, each year. See Appendix
    4) Provide incentives to buy vehicles that get more than 35 mpg, EPA combined; the more above the limit, the greater the incentive.
    5) Charge annual fees, paid at time of registration, on existing and new vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, EPA combined; the more below the limit, the greater the fee.

    The above 4 items would save money for Vermonters, and make the state economy more competitive
    Most of the other energy measures are just expensively subsidized hogwash and behavior modifications that would not make one iota of difference regarding climate change.

    • Who is going to pay for the building of these net-zero-energy and energy-surplus homes? You? I don’t want to. I have a home. And I don’t want my taxes to go up for the Socialist Republic of Vermont to pay for something NO ONE IS BUYING SINCE PEOPLE ARE LEAVING VERMONT EN MASSE!!! And why do people who have older vehicles that we keep running and in classic great shape have to pay more? I am saving a shitton more than buying a new vehicle every 5-8 years like so many do. Anything that raises my taxes more than the ridiculous rates I am paying now is off the table for me. Not to mention, I will continue to buy everything I possibly can in NH.

  4. The Burlington Electric plant can use approximately 76 tons of wood chips per hour (about 30 cords per hour). How much CO2 does this “clean” electricity create? How about all the lost trees?

  5. THE GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT A DECADES-LONG BURDEN ON VERMONT
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-global-warming-solutions-act-a-decades-long-burden-on-vermont

    The Vermont House and Senate overrode Governor Scott’s veto of GWSA
    GSWA converts the aspirational goals of the CEP, to mandated goals.
    If mandated goals are not attained, there would be mandated financial penalties, prohibitions (you shall do this; you shall not do that), fees and surcharges.

    The “Fight Climate Change” agitators, many of whom would stand to financially gain from the GWSA mandates, have failed to get a carbon tax enacted for five years.
    With GWSA, they get a bonanza beyond their wildest dreams.
    They labelled GWSA as “this year’s must-pass legislation”.

    A RATIONAL ALTERNATIVE FOR VERMONT INSTEAD OF GWSA

    California: California has had a GWSA law since 2006, which resulted in:

    – Rapid increases of electric rates and gasoline prices
    – Huge DUCK-curves, due to midday solar electricity surges
    – Unwise/untimely/political/ideological shutdown of gas plants, which resulted in rolling blackouts, when, during a multi-day heat wave, solar disappearing in late-afternoon/early-evening (DURING PEAK HOURS), and not reappearing until mid-morning THE NEXT DAY, while all that time wind was minimal.
    – A host of rules, regulations, taxes, fees and surcharges, and penalties to enforce behavior modification programs

    With high levels of weather-dependent wind and solar, huge storage (multiple TWh) would be required.
    That storage would cost several trillion dollars, if materials could be found to build such capacity. It would need to cover:

    1) Single and multi-day heat waves over large areas
    2) Wind/solar lulls throughout the year, as frequently occur in New England
    3) Short-term and seasonal variations.

    The ADDITIONAL environmental impact on millions of acres with wind and solar systems, would be enormous all over the US.

    It would be much better to build millions of PASSIVHAUS-style buildings all over the US.
    They would need only 1/3 the energy of the current energy hogs.

    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-vagaries-of-solar-in-new-england
    http://www.truenorthreports.com/welcome-to-hell-says-california-policy-expert-where-global-warming-solutions-act-passed-in-2006

    Vermont: For Vermont, the only thing that makes any sense is to stop “emulating” California.
    Vermont should immediately scrap GWSA, and concentrate on:

    1) Energy conservation
    2) Energy efficiency
    3) Building net-zero-energy, and energy-surplus houses and other buildings, by the thousands, each year. See Appendix
    4) Provide incentives to buy vehicles that get more than 35 mpg, EPA combined; the more above the limit, the greater the incentive.
    5) Charge annual fees, paid at time of registration, on existing and new vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, EPA combined; the more below the limit, the greater the fee.

    The above 4 items would save money for Vermonters, and make the state economy more competitive
    Most of the other energy measures are just expensively subsidized hogwash and behavior modifications that would not make one iota of difference regarding climate change.

  6. GWSA-REQUIRED GROSS EMISSION REDUCTIONS AND COSTS; THREE PHASES

    The below CO2 emissions reductions for Phases 1, 2, and 3 are based on the VT-CEP mandated goals.
    The Phase 1 turnkey capital cost estimate is based on the various measures listed in the EAN report. See URL
    https://www.eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EAN-report-2020-final.pdf

    According to the EAN plan, the measures would reduce CO2 from 9.76, in 2016 to 7.46, in 2025, a reduction of 2.28 MMt.
    The turnkey capital cost of the EAN measures would be about $9.25 billion. See table 1.
    Because the CO2 reduction of Phase 1 is “only” 1.56 MMT, the turnkey capital cost of Phase 1 (using the EAN plan as a basis) would be about 1.56/2.28 x $9.25 billion = $6.32 billion.

    However, it gets a lot worse, because the EAN analysis was based on faulty assumptions, which grossly overstated the CO2 reduction of electric vehicles and of heat pumps. As a result, many more EVs and HPs would be required to achieve the EAN reductions.
    The “adjusted” turnkey capital cost would become about $13.70 billion. See table 1.

    Flawed EAN Assumptions

    1) EAN used 34 g CO2/kWh, at wall outlet, based on power purchase agreements utilities have with owners of generating plants, instead of 276 g CO2/kWh, the NE grid CO2, adjusted for imports from nearby grids.
    The NE grid CO2 value is based on the physical consumption of fuel by NE generating plants.
    See tables 2 and 3 in Appendix

    2) EAN used 22.7 mpg, EPA combined, in 2018. See pg. 4 of URL
    That is the average of ALL vehicles registered in Vermont.
    That would include all types of 1) gasoline vehicles, 2) diesel vehicles, including large and small trucks, 3) RVs, and other on the road vehicles. See notes.
    https://www.eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EAN-report-2020-fi

    NOTE: People who drive higher-mileage vehicles, say greater than 30 mpg, EPA combined, are likely to buy EVs or plug-hybrids, such as a 54-mpg Prius.
    EAN using 22.7 mpg, instead of at least 30 mpg, would make EVs look better, regarding CO2 emissions.
    It is a form of hyping EVs, not obvious to lay people/legislators.

    NOTE:
    Figure ES-1 in this article shows the vast majority of Vermonters purchased lower-mileage vehicles, i.e., less than 30 mpg, EPA combined, during 2016, 2017, and 2018.
    Those vehicles (such as SUVs, crossovers, ¼-ton pick-ups) usually have all-wheel-drive.
    They are most useful to Vermonters during winter conditions.
    Figure ES-1 shows very few Vermonters buy higher-mileage vehicles., i.e., greater than 30 mpg, EPA combined
    Those few Vermonters likely are replacing higher-mileage vehicles to EVs.
    No wonder EV adoption is “not taking off”. See fig ES-1 of URL
    https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Legislative-Reports/Feebate-Study-Report-10-15-2019-Final.pdf

    Phase 1
    26%+ below 2005, i.e., (1 – 0.27) x 10.22 = 7.46 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2025, to “meet Paris”
    The Council would take about a year to develop plans, which means most of 2021 would have elapsed before any action.
    The actual CO2 reduction would be from 9.02, at end 2018 (latest numbers) to 7.46, Jan. 1, 2025, or 1.56 MMt, during the years 2022, 2023, and 2024, effectively a 3-y period.
    The “adjusted” turnkey capital cost would be about 1.56/2.28 x 13.70 = $9.37 billion
    The CO2 reduction appears to be a physical and financial impossibility.
    See table 1A and Note.

    Phase 2
    40%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.40) x 8.59 = 5.15 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2030
    The CO2 reduction would be 7.46, Jan 1, 2025 – 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 = 2.31 MMt, during the 5-y period
    No capital cost estimate was made.

    Phase 3
    80%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.80) x 8.59 = 1.72 MMt, by January 1, 2050
    The CO2 reduction would be 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 – 1.72, Jan. 1 2050 = 3.43 MMt, during the 20-y period
    No capital cost estimate was made.

  7. GWSA 23-Member Council

    The Council likely would be the sole decider how hundreds of millions of $dollars would be spent, each year, for decades, with no relief ever, because:

    The Council make-up would include:

    1) Eight Government Secretaries and Commissioners
    2) Eight members appointed by the Speaker of the House
    3) Seven members appointed by the “Committee on Committees”, C of C
    The members of the C of C are the Lt Governor, Senate president pro tem, and a “third member” elected by the Senate
    See URL
    https://legiscan.com/VT/text/H0688/2019

    The Governor’s Secretary of Administration would be the Chairman.
    He/she has the power to call meetings.
    If he/she delays calling meetings, any 12 of 23 members could call a meeting.

    NOTE: The Governor would have only 8 votes, plus may be a few more, but likely not 5, i.e., the Governor could not override the 12 members calling a meeting.

    The action sequence would be as follows:

    Council would approve plans.
    VT Agency of Natural Resources, ANR, would write rules to implement plans,
    Council would approve rules
    Approved rules sent to the Governor’s Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules, ICAR
    ICAR is composed of Governor Appointees
    ICAR can reject the rules, i.e., the Governor can stop the process.

    What happens next likely would be lawsuits
    Any entity, such as the Conservation Law Foundation, could sue the state, if Council decisions would not reduce CO2 in accordance with GSWA/CEP goals.

    Legislators and Other Vermonters Disenfranchised

    If mandated goals are not attained, there would be mandated financial penalties, prohibitions (you shall do this; you shall not do that), fees and surcharges
    If the Council would decide to impose the equivalent of a carbon tax, so be it.

    Legislators would not be allowed to vote on any plan, or any proposed rules.
    Legislators would not be voting on GWSA-related financial penalties, prohibitions, and increases in fees and surcharges.
    Legislators, and the people who voted for them, would be disenfranchised.
    Legislators would be “off-the-hook”.

    GWSA Likely is Unconstitutional

    On the face of it, GWSA has to be unconstitutional, because the Governor, and his administration, and Legislators, appear to have no effective say in any Council decisions.
    Such extremism could only come about due to the present, veto-proof control by Dem/Progs.
    This is Centralized Command and Control.
    It has nothing to do with Democracy.

  8. Isn’t there a cycle, plants and trees use Co2 and give off Oxygen for animals, fires and PEOPLE..

    How then will those new trees in city hall park. thrive?
    Will the Mayor be deprived of Oxygen?
    JOKE!

  9. Can’t wait for those rolling back-outs. The Vermont legislature is too stupid to see what’s happening in California with their radical power plans.

  10. And what will Burlington do with all that tax money it collects? How many fossil fuel cops will they have to hire? The Zoning and Building Inspectors will have a pretty busy time with enforcement Where will the Carbon Tax Courthouse be built and how many Carbon Judges will they need? Burlington can now build a new nuclear power plant to power up all the new electric homes. Where are the folks that might oppose these ideas? Moving south I’ll bet.

  11. Only highly insulated/highly sealed housing can be ECONOMICALLY heated 100% with heat pumps.

    A 2000 sq ft house, with a heat demand of 20,000 Btu/h, or less, at -10F, would be required.

    Is $FINEBERGER proposing such future housing for Burlington residents?

    If so, the first act required is to DRASTICALLY upgrade the energy aspects of the building code.
    All new buildings would be built to that upgraded code, or better.

    It is best to put the horse before the cart.

    • One aspect of a tightly sealed house are the health hazards. No fresh air interchange and radon gas buildup from the concrete in the cellar. Buildup of fumes from cooking, etc.

      • Lester,

        Only if it is done incorrectly.

        Here is an award-winning example from 2009.
        It ECONOMICALLY uses heat pumps for 100% space heating

        NOTE: Ventilation!

        Highly Insulated, Highly Sealed House
        In 2008, Transformations Inc., Townsend, MA, was chosen to participate in an investor-owned utilities Zero Energy Challenge, to encourage builders to design a house with a HERS Index below 35 before December 2009.
        The team designed a house with a – 4 HERS rating. Price: $195,200, in 2009
        https://www.mass.gov/doc/getting-to-zero-final-report-of-the-massachusetts-zero-net-energy-buildings-task-force/download

        Roof (R75): 5″ HDF, and 13″ high-density cellulose along the slope of the 2nd-floor roof rafters; 2 x 12 and a 2 x 4 held off by 3″
        Walls (R49): Double 2 x 4 wall, total depth 12″; 3″ HDF and 9″ cellulose
        Basement Ceiling: 3″ HDF and R-30 fiberglass batts
        Windows: Paradigm, triple-pane, Low-E and krypton gas
        Heating/Cooling: Two Mitsubishi Mr. Slim mini-split, ductless ASHPs; capacity about 11,000 Btu/h/ASHP, each with one head

        Ventilation: Lifebreath 155 ECM Energy Recovery Ventilator, which operates 24/7/365. It provides 0.5 ACH, per HVAC code recommendations.

        Leakage: About 175 cfm at 50 pascal; ACH = 1.065.
        Solar: Evergreen Solar panels; 6.4 kW; 30 Spruce Line 190W
        DHW: SunDrum Solar

        Table 6 shows the values of the above house and the corresponding values for a 2000 ft2 house.
        The 19,975 Btu/h corresponds with the 20,000 Btu/h in table 8.

    • Jay,
      Some smart naturalists/environmentalists at major universities, such as Harvard and Stamford, have frequently stated for decades, the world’s population needs to be reduced to about 1.0 billion, to enable the OTHER FAUNA AND FLORA TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE.

  12. Hey, all you home owners in Burlington, it’s bad enough you’re being taxed out
    by ridiculous school budgets now your Mayor thinks adding this new proposal
    he thinks this is a great idear ……..Oh Well, you voted him in !!

    Oh yeah, how’s the ” Big Dig Going ” still a big sandpit, thank your Mayor again.

    • Henry,
      Regarding GWSA, it does not matter who you vote in, because legislators will have NO SAY, regarding any measures mandated by the GWSA-23-member council.

      The sooner this disenfranchisement is challenged in court, regarding unconstitutionality, the better.

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