Carbon ‘credit system’ instead of ‘carbon tax’ in new clean heat standard

Rep. Timothy Briglin, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Technology, told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that the proposed “clean heat standard” would incentivize carbon-free heating systems and force fuel sellers to pay into a carbon-emissions-based credit system that proponents continue not to call a carbon tax.

“We really don’t regulate how you heat your homes, we don’t say that you’ve got to have a certain level of efficiency, you’ve got to have a certain type of furnace, you’ve got to use a certain type of fuel,” Briglin said.

The clean heat standard, H.715, will offer financial assistance to Vermonters who choose non-carbon-based heating systems such as cold-climate heat pumps. The program is part of the state’s Climate Action Plan.

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CARBON HEATING GETTING PUSHED OUT?: The Legislature is continuing to push legislation meant to tax and/or promote getting rid of carbon-associated heating systems.

“Basically what it is is a credit system,” he said.

The bill’s text reads: “An obligated party may obtain the required amount of clean heat credits through delivery of eligible clean heat measures, through contracts for delivery of eligible clean heat measures, through the market purchase of clean heat credits, or through delivery of eligible clean heat measures by a designated statewide default delivery agent.”

Briglin noted that currently roughly a third of the state’s carbon emissions are attributed to indoor heating. He added that over half of its structures were built before 1975, meaning they are poorly insulated.

He emphasized that this is not a carbon tax, and he doesn’t think having one is a great idea.

“By raising a fuel tax by 5 or 10 cents, whatever, it’s not going to affect how much fuel people buy,” he said.

The plan pushes for the electrification of home and building heating systems.

“Like, to heat your homes and water with heat pumps … those are the types of solutions that we are talking about that would generate credits,” he said.

He suggested that individual fuel buyers are off the hook, but those who sell the fuels will have an added cost.

“If you sell fuel, you in doing that generates an obligation that you have to fulfill by generating a certain number of cleaning credits. And there are a variety of pathways that you can go down to fulfill that obligation.”

He said that the Public Utilities Commission will need to start to work on establishing this credit-exchange system.

“So basically they convert your fuel sales into emission, how much are we trying to reduce emissions, and so you need to generate a certain number of credits to essentially compensate for the amount of fuel that you are selling,” he said.

Making the bill more complicated is that to fulfill a clean energy obligation credit will not necessarily mean that direct action needs to be taken by the fuel seller in terms of mitigating carbon outputs.

“You could simply buy credits on the market to fulfill your obligation,” he said.

One of the benchmarks set in the proposal is to limit heating-sector carbon emissions to 40% of 1990’s carbon emission levels. He said that by the last recorded benchmark for Vermont, the state is just about even with 1990’s emission levels as of 2018, meaning the state needs a 40% reduction in carbon-fuel usage from today’s economic activity.

Headlines from around the world show that carbon-emitting “fossil fuels” continue to provide the majority of affordable electricity in global markets.

“But when these green forms of energy fall short, it’s fossil fuels to the rescue. In fact, the European Union is the largest importer of natural gas in the world, with almost half (41%) coming from Russia,” Fox News reported on Wednesday.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

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4 thoughts on “Carbon ‘credit system’ instead of ‘carbon tax’ in new clean heat standard

  1. More smoke and mirrors from briglin and his committee. These legislators lack the knowledge and skill set to be deciding by bureaucratic fiat how and with what you will heat your home and move about.
    The current fever of the legislature to “electrify” heating and transportation is folly. Disregarding the alleged carbon footprint of what it takes to produce electricity, because most will be made outside of Vermont’s borders- satisfies the goal for Vermont (That goal was decided by an extremely small number of Vermont’s population) but ignores the reality of how things work- and how electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed.
    An example would be that if a home was switched from oil heat to electrically powered mini-split heat pumps, the carbon emitted from the combustion of oil can be deducted from the total emitted in Vermont. How does the “carbon footprint” of the energy required to run the mini split get added back in? It cannot rely on solar, 100% as the sun doesn’t shine at night, nor much in December. Nuclear? Nope, the legislature nixed that years ago. Hydro? maybe. More likely- because of the archaic and confused regulations of the PSB and legislature, that nighttime electricity required on a 0 degree night in December comes form out of state natural Gas or Oil fired generating plants. Because by the nature of their design limitations, the mini-split heat pump requires 50% more electricity to provide heat at 0 degrees than at 30 degrees. Does that get added back into the legislature’s “carbon footprint”?Nope.
    The familiar legislative term of “unintended consequences” is soon to bite all of us, in our wallets- with zero change in carbon emitted from Vermont’s energy usage.

    This is analogous to the pea under the walnut shell con game, with your tax dollars as the pea.

  2. All of these proposals are nothing but a money collector tax for the friends of the people in the legislature. — If these characters really wanted to reduce vermont CO2 (which does nothing across the globe), they would just change the tax code so that any efficiency one puts into their home, gets a 100% tax credit. — There you have it.

  3. I really have to wonder how much these folks get paid to push this BS. Once VT is fully electrified they will push us to use less electricity. Or, PUC will authorize a rate increase anytime the electric producers whine about how expensive it is to generate all that electricity. Briglin states “…individual fuel buyers are off the hook…” Really? Does he think fuel sellers will not pass on this added expense? If fuel sellers are prevented from passing it down to buyers surely they will eventually go out of business. Which is probably the ultimate goal anyway.

  4. The green energy sources will never fall short, except on a snowy day when all the solar panels are covered day and night for up to a week, with the wind being minimal as well, at about the same time.

    Florida will have a lot of climate refugees

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