Commentary: Support governor’s $200 million climate action proposal

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Joe Flynn, secretary of the Agency of Transportation, June Tierney, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, and Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources.

The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) was a centerpiece of the last legislative session. It was driven by very real concerns around Vermont’s changing climate and the magnitude of what must be done to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and make our landscape more resilient.

In its forthcoming 2020 Annual Progress Report for Vermont, the Energy Action Network (EAN) estimates that to achieve the GWSA’s emissions reduction requirement for 2025, we will need to put more than 46,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the road and replace nearly 32,000 fossil fuel-based home and building heating systems with heat pumps or advanced wood heat.

These numbers are daunting and little time remains to do this work. But it becomes more manageable if we act now on initiatives we won’t later regret.

And here’s why we can make significant investments right now, when in year’s past we could not: Vermont will receive $1 billion through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This funding presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immediately accelerate “no regrets” climate action work. Governor Scott’s proposed ARPA budget calls for $200 million over three years to facilitate direct, strategic, and measurable emissions reductions. In addition, the Governor proposed $225 million to expand broadband access that will benefit climate by facilitating more telecommuting in place of driving to destinations.

At the same time, the Vermont Climate Council is hard at work to develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP) by December 1 of this year. The CAP will specify the full suite of initiatives, programs and strategies needed to meet the GWSA’s GHG emissions reduction commitments. The Council will achieve an important milestone when it adopts the CAP, but it is neither a starting line nor an endpoint for climate action.

While the CAP will be a framework for implementing steps to achieve GHG emissions reductions, we cannot afford to defer all action until every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. The Governor’s proposal reserves $100 million to support implementation of the CAP while also committing $100 million to things we can and should do right now — so called “no regrets” policies.

No regrets policies are investments we can confidently make immediately, while work on the CAP continues. From weatherizing homes to expanding Vermont’s network of EV charging stations to making improvements to the electric grid to helping relocate homes and businesses in harm’s way, there are things we can do now that don’t risk getting out of step with this plan.

For instance, considering Vermont had less than 4,000 EVs registered as of July of last year and fewer than 300 publicly available EV charging stations spread across the state, even if the CAP determines we need significantly fewer than the 46,000 EVs currently estimated, we’ll still need a dramatic increase in EVs and infrastructure over the next four years. So, acting now to invest in EVs and charging infrastructure — as Governor Scott has proposed — is the right thing to do.

This funding will be used to deploy charging stations in strategic locations statewide, including along highway corridors, at office buildings, in downtowns and village centers, at multi-family housing sites and more. The deployment will follow the current location pattern, but at a much higher rate. And although EVs are currently a small fraction of the existing vehicle stock in Vermont, their deployment is growing rapidly — both within Vermont and the region. Continuing to build charging infrastructure throughout the state is necessary to support this growth and ensure Vermont is well-positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities and benefits afforded by EVs. This should be a “no regrets” move we can all get behind.

The moral imperative to do our piece in driving down greenhouse gas emissions is more real and more urgent than it has ever been. We need to accelerate our actions, now. And we have the federal funds to do it. We know this is a goal the Legislature shares, but we need their partnership in fully supporting the Governor’s $200 million climate action proposal, so we can capitalize on the unprecedented resources to make transformational investments and take bold and immediate action in the face of the significant climate challenges.

Image courtesy of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

15 thoughts on “Commentary: Support governor’s $200 million climate action proposal


    ISO-NE uses fuel/energy fed to power plants to calculate CO2/kWh of the NE grid
    Page 13 of URL shows 658 lb CO2/MWh, or 658 x 454/1000 = 299 g/kWh; fed to grid basis, or 323 g/kWh, fed to wall outlet basis.

    Imports were 17% of total electricity fed to the NE grid.

    Assume imports have zero g CO2/kWh

    Adjusted for imports 323/1.17 = 276 g/kWh, fed to wall outlet basis

    ISO-NE calculated Vermont CO2 at 5.55 billion kWh x 276 g/kWh x 1 lb/454 g x 1 Mt/2204.62 lb = 1,530,426 Mt/y, fed to wall outlet basis, in 2018.

    VT-DPS has its “proprietary way” of calculating CO2/kWh, based on PAPER power purchase agreements, PPAs, utilities have with owners of generating plants.

    VT-DPS calculates Vermont CO2 at 190,000 Mt/y in 2018, based on PAPER PPAs, or 190000/1530426 x 276 = 34 g/kWh, fed to wall outlet basis, in 2018

    VT-DPS and EAN uses the artificial 34 g/kWh to “evaluate” heat pumps and EVs, i.e., make heat pumps and EVs look extra good.

    It is pure nonsense to talk of a “Vermont Energy mix”, or a “New Hampshire energy mix”, because electricity travels, as electromagnetic waves, at near the speed mpg light, i.e., 1800 mile in 0.01 second, i.e., from northern Maine too southern Florida in 0.01 second!!!

    The electrons merely vibrate in place at 60 cycles per second.

  2. Heat pumps are one line item of the governor’s plan.

    Heat Pumps are Money Losers in my Vermont House (as they are in most people’s houses)

    My annual electricity consumption increased about 50% (the various taxes, fees, and surcharges also increased), after I installed three Mitsubishi, 24,000 Btu/h heat pumps, each with 2 heads; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.

    They are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, well-sealed/well-insulated house.
    They displaced a small fraction of my normal 1200-gallon propane consumption.

    My existing Viessmann propane system, 95%-efficient in condensing mode, is used on cold days, 15F or less, because heat pumps have low efficiencies, i.e., low Btu/kWh, at exactly the same time my house would need the most heat; a perverse situation, due to the laws of Physics 101!!

    I have had no energy cost savings, because of high household electric rates, augmented with taxes, fees and surcharges

    Amortizing the $24,000 capital cost at 3.5%/y for 15 years costs about $2,059/y; losing money.

    There likely will be service calls and parts, as the years go by, in addition to service calls and parts for the existing propane system; losing more money.

    NOTE: VT-DPS found, after a survey of 77 heat pumps installed in Vermont houses (turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500), the annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200, but the annual amortizing costs turned that gain into a loss of $200, i.e., on average, these houses were unsuitable for heat pumps, and the owners were losing money.

    FLAWED ASHP ANALYSIS BY Energy Action Network

    1) Ignored the upstream CO2 of fuels and electricity.
    2) Used an artificial value of 34 g/kWh, concocted by VT-DPS

    No wonder EAN obtained an extremely high CO2 reduction/EV
    EAN used that fake value to claim 90,000 heat pumps, installed by 2025, would reduce CO2 by 0.370 million Mt, or 4.111/y per ASHP

    The 34 g CO2/kWh is an artificial/political value for 2018, concocted by VT-DPS, based on “paper” power purchase agreements, PPAs. It has nothing to do with physical reality. It is about 8 times less than the NE grid CO2. See tables 9 and 10

    Vermont ASHP Installations
    The existing addition rate of ASHPs is about 2,900/y, per VT-DPS
    EAN would add 90,000 ASHPs, or 18,000/y, by end 2025, which is not realistic.


    1) Includes CO2 of upstream energy of the fuels and electricity.
    2) Uses CO2 from electricity at 304 g/kWh, at wall outlet, per ISO-NE.
    3) Includes the cost of amortizing the ASHPS.

    With those values, EAN’s 90,000 heat pumps, installed by 2025, would reduce CO2 by only 0.215 million Mt/y, or 2.389 Mt/y per ASHP.
    EAN would need 4.111/2.389 x 90000 = 152,138 ASHPs to have a CO2 reduction of 0.370 million Mt/y. See table 6

  3. Electric light duty vehicles, eLDVs, and chargers are one line item of the governor’s plan.

    RE folks would have everyone driving UNAFFORDABLE EVS, that would reduce very little CO2 compared with EFFICIENT gasoline vehicles., on a lifetime, A-to-Z basis.

    EVs do not have a tail pipe, but they sure as hell “emit” CO2.

    On a lifetime, A-to-Z basis, the:

    NISSAN Leaf S Plus, EV, compact SUV, no AWD, would have 25.967 metric ton of CO2 over 10 years.
    TOYOTA Prius L Eco, 62 mpg, compact car, no AWD, would have 26,490 Mt over 10y
    SUBARU Outback, 30 mpg, medium SUV, with AWD, would have 43.015 Mt over 10y
    VT Light Duty Vehicle mix, 22.7 mpg, many with AWD or 4WD, would have 56,315 Mt over 10y

    If LDV average would become 40 mpg (by means of carrots and sticks), CO2 would become about 22.7/40 x 56.315 = 32 Mt over 10y, which is not that much more than the 26,490 Mt of a Prius L Eco.

    “Going EV” to obtain a few more Mt/vehicle would require huge capital investments having a very high cost of CO2 reduction per metric ton.

    “Break their will” RE folks want to “Electrify Everything”, but that is an easily uttered slogan
    It would require:

    – Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro
    – Additional grid augmentation/expansion to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
    – Additional battery systems to store the midday solar electricity surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
    – Major command/control-orchestrating to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:

    1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
    2) Operating times of major appliances
    3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

  4. Electric school buses is one line item of the governor’s plan.

    Capital cost of electric bus, plus charger, $327,500 + $25,000 = $352,500
    Battery system cost, $100,000, for a 60 to 80-mile range.
    Capital cost of diesel bus, $100,000
    Additional capital cost, 352500 – 100000 = $252,500
    Travel, 12,000 miles/y, the average of diesel school buses in Vermont.

    O&M Cost Reduction per Bus

    Diesel bus maintenance for US and Canada = 23 c/mile
    Electric bus maintenance for US and Canada = 6.4 c/mile.

    Electricity, energy, commercial/institutional rate; 13 c//kWh, per VEIC
    Electricity demand, controlled charging, assumed for SSI at 25%, and for MA at 30%, of energy cost

    Lion bus electricity consumption is 1.3 to 1.4 kWh DC/mile, per Lion Corporation literature.

    SSI electric buses averaged 1.745 kWh AC/mile, from the wall outlet, to have 1.325 kWh DC/mile in the battery (near the low end of the Lion range); mild climates require less electricity/mile. See Note

    MA electric buses would require 1.890 kWh AC/mile, from the wall outlet, to have 1.390 kWh DC/mile in the battery (near the high end of the Lion range); cold climates require greater electricity/mile.
    A separate fuel oil-fired heating system is required for cabin heating, which emits CO2. See Note

    MA diesel bus mileage; 6.3 mpg, cold climate, per VEIC
    SSI diesel bus mileage; 1.15 x 6.3 = 7.25 mpg; mild climates have better mpg and require minimal, or no, cabin heating

    SSI electricity cost = 1.745 kWh AC/mile x 13 c/mile = 2722, energy + 0.25 x 2722, demand = US $3,403/y, or 28.4 c/mile
    SSI electric bus total cost = 6.4, maintenance + 28.4, electricity = 34.8 c/mile; no cabin heating.
    SSI diesel bus total cost = 23, maintenance + 34.5, fuel = 57.5 c/mile
    SSI cost reduction per bus = 57.5 – 34.8 = 22.8 c/mile, or $2,732/y

    Amortizing the capital cost difference; ($352,500 – $100,000) at 3.5%/y for 15 years = $21,661/y, or 180.1 c/mile, about 7.9 times the annual cost reduction!!

    MA electricity cost = 1.890 kWh AC/mile x 13 c/kWh = 2948 + 0.30 x 2948, demand = US $3,833/y, or 31.9 c/mile
    MA electric bus cabin heating cost; 12000 miles x 1 gal/78 miles x $2.93/gal = 3.8 c/mile
    MA electric bus total cost = 6.4, maintenance + 31.9, electricity + 3.8, cabin heating = 42.1 c/mile
    MA diesel bus total cost = 23, maintenance + 39.7, fuel = 62.7 c/mile
    MA cost reduction per bus = 62.7 – 42.1 = 20.6 c/mile, or $2,470/y

    Amortizing the capital cost difference ($352,500 – $100,000) at 3.5%/y for 15 years = $21,661/y, or 180.1 c/mile, about 8.8 times the annual cost reduction per bus!!

    Table 1A/Cost/mile Energy Maintenance Total Amortizing Total Times
    c/mile c/mile c/mile c/mile c/mile
    Diesel 34.5 23.0 57.5
    Electric 28.4 6.4 34.8
    Reduction 6.1 16.6 22.8 180.5 238.0 7.9
    Diesel 39.7 23.0 62.7
    Electric 35.7 6.4 42.1
    Reduction 4.0 16.6 20.6 180.5 243.2 8.8

    CO2 Reduction per Bus

    NE Grid CO2; 334 g/kWh; that value would slowly decrease as more wind and solar would be added to the electricity mix.
    Combustion CO2 of diesel fuel and cabin heating fuel oil is 10.285 kg/gal. See Note.

    SSI electric bus CO2 = 1.745 kWh AC/mile x 12000 miles x 334 g/kWh x 1000000 g/Mt = 6.99 Mt/y; no cabin heating.

    MA electric bus CO2 = 1.890 kWh AC/mile x 12000 miles x 334 g/kWh x 1000000 g/Mt = 7.58 Mt/y
    MA electric bus cabin heating CO2 = 20000 miles/y x 1 gal/78 miles x 10.285 kg/gal x 1 Mt/1000 kg = 1.58 Mt/y
    Total electric bus CO2 = 7.58 + 1.38 = 9.16 Mt/y

    SSI diesel bus CO2 = 12000 miles x 1 gal/7.25 miles x 10.285 kg/gal x 1 Mt/1000 kg = 17.02 Mt/y
    MA diesel bus CO2 = 12000 miles x 1 gal/6.30 miles x 10.285 kg/gal x 1 Mt/1000 kg = 19.59 Mt/y

    MA electric buses, cold climate, have 9.16/6.99 = 31% more CO2 than SSI electric buses, mild climate

    SSI CO2 reduction per bus = 17.02, diesel – 6.99, electric = 10.03 Mt/y
    MA CO2 reduction per bus = 19.59, diesel – 9.16, electric = 10.43 Mt/y

    NOTE: SSI bus electricity = 0.14 Mt CO2/y x 1,000,000 g/Mt x 1 yr/8,709 miles x 1 kWh AC/9 g CO2 = 1.745 kWh AC/mile. See spreadsheet in SSI URL

    NOTE: VEIC, as part of its “on-paper” simulation, claimed, the MA buses, with a cold climate, would need only about 1.47 kWh AC/mile x 13 c/kWh + 3.8 c/mile, cabin heating = 22.2 c/mile. However, that proved to be a physical impossibility, as described below.

    NOTE: Energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption, CO2, and energy costs, such as by 1) exchanging traditional light bulbs for LEDs, and 2) insulating and sealing energy-hog housing and other buildings, and 3) increasing the mileage of existing gasoline vehicles, would cost $50 to $200 per metric ton, much less than the $2,076/Mt of electric school buses.

  5. The turnkey capital cost to implement the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, would be in excess of $1.0 billion/y for at least 33 years (2017 – 2050), according to a 2015 Energy Action Network annual report. If updated to 2021, the numbers would be about $1.25 billion/y for 29 years (2021 – 2050). See URLs.

    Spending on government energy programs, including Efficiency Vermont, has averaged about $210 million/y from 2000 to 2015, a total of at least $2.5 billion, but Vermont CO2 emissions increased from 9.64 million metric ton in 2000, to 9.99 MMt in 2015, an increase of 3.6%.

    That means, on average, these RE programs:

    – Have been expensive failures for 15 years
    – Led to higher energy prices, and higher other prices, than they would have been without those wasteful programs.

    Giving the same RE folks six times as much money per year, to implement the CEP, per mandate of the unconstitutional GWSA, would be very far beyond rational.

    Advice: When stuck in a pit, it is best to stop digging, and find something better to do, such as energy-efficiency buildings, which would reduce CO2 at low cost per metric ton, for many decades See Appendix.

    Vermont’s CO2 is about the size of a dot at the end of a sentence.
    See Image and URL

    World 2021 Annual Energy Report

  6. If you remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when will too much be to much? Then what will be the unintended consequences? A lot of money wasted for nothing.

  7. My question is to the Vermont Climate Council, What are you really going to use that money for?? Are you each going to buy yourselves an electric car and also for your pet projects? Have you used your head and researched where this lithium for these batteries come from and how Children as young as 8 are involved in cobalt mining, earning as little as $3.50-$10 a day for the dangerous and dirty work, which can involve digging underground, carrying very heavy sacks, and washing the mined cobalt in the river. Some children aren’t even paid. Children have died in these mines, by cave-ins and too much exposure to cobalt can cause asthma, pneumonia, and heart and thyroid damage. The mines themselves tend to be little more than holes in the ground, with no suitable structural support to prevent collapse and little or no protective clothing worn by the miners. So instead of pushing for that electric car, you want to drive your butt around in think of these children who are digging for this cobalt and losing their lives. It’s also been proven that cold weather is not good for Electric cars, extreme cold can make the battery explode..So You idiots in the VCC use your head besides just for a hat rack. Think of these poor children…

  8. Before we take any costly action on reducing CO2, we should first perform due diligence to ensure that CO2 is actually a problem that needs to be fixed, and that our fixes make sense. We can do this by consulting with the numerous scientist who argue that CO2 isn’t a problem and by carefully examining the evidence that supports the supposed effects of CO2 on our planet.

    One might start, for example, with the supposed death, or near-death, of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as other reefs worldwide, allegedly because of CO2. The problem is, this supposed death of the GBR isn’t happening, as a recent book by scientist Peter Ridd, who worked closely with the GBR system, points out in his book, “Reef Heresy.” We could also look at the recent controversy over the inability to replicate the studies done on ocean acidification and its effect on marine animals, as shown here: We could also look into the true cause of reef death world-wide, which isn’t CO2 at all: it’s primarily over-fishing that removes the fish that control the algae that would otherwise smother the reefs, as shown in Cinner’s 2016 paper examining the factors leading to “bright spots” in the world’s reef systems (but those who follow the doctrine have no interest in facts that disprove it.)

    It’s highly unlikely that any scrutiny of the doctrine will take place because we’re not operating in a realm of science wherein everything is open to debate and the testing of assertions is welcome as a check on science that isn’t sufficiently rigorous. We’re now operating in the realm of doctrine, of assumption and supposition and confused causality (and computer modelling) elevated to the realm of indisputable truth, a far cry from what science is supposed to be. Those who say “we’re following the science” usually mean that they’re following doctrine and groupthink, and could care less about questioning any of it.

    But more than this, we’re now being pushed into another “necessity,” aren’t we? All the restriction on our liberties were supposedly necessary to combat Covid-19, although Sweden, Florida, and Texas seem to be showing that those restrictions, in the form of medical mandates (which necessarily led to medical police states,) were unnecessary. Now, we’re being pushed into necessary choices for imminent climate change and, just as with Covid-19, voices that dissent from the ruling doctrine will be censored no matter how much evidence and common sense and basic science supports them. Another “necessary” police state system in the works, to keep us safe from a fabricated global emergency? Another cog in the wheel of this supposedly necessary great reset police state?

    Thanks, but no thanks. We must remember to be free, and that we aren’t “all in this together.” No one is opposed to specific solutions to specific, well-defined problems whose causality can be clearly established. But a doctrine of “if it’s happening, it must be climate change” doesn’t cut it for those of us who still value individual critical thinking over groupthink consensus.

    • Just think where they’d be if we didn’t have a Republican governor (sarcasm intended) It’s amazing they can keep selling their flawed theory and fool people to believe it. Just the information that last year with greatly reduced emissions warming occurred should be enough data to rethink their hypothesis.

  9. More demands and more restrictions and more hard$$$$$$$hip$
    – to prove our WOKENESS.!! Whatever.

    A lot of back end Bull

  10. Have these virtue signalers disconnected their business and personal lives from the grid yet?
    Didn’t think so.

  11. The lunatics are running the asylum. Vermont could spend a hundred billion and it would have no impact on the rate of Vermont’s climate change. Another forty six thousand cars plugged into the electric distribution grid won’t help – And, if they’re subsidized, taxpayers who see no benefit from them will be paying for them. AGW is a cult religion based on manipulated statistics and computer models that reliably fail to be upheld by reality. It is a scam. Warming or cooling of the climate is not caused by human activities – and probably is not significantly influenced by them.

  12. Today the Governor’s Secretaries and Commissioner breathlessly tell us:

    “The Global Warming Solution Act …… is driven by very real concerns around Vermont’s changing climate”

    “little time remains to do this work”

    “we cannot afford to defer all action until every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed.”

    “The moral imperative to do our piece in driving down greenhouse gas emissions is more real and more urgent than it has ever been.”

    “We need to accelerate our actions, now.”

    Wow……We’re now told in no uncertain terms by the Governor’s team that there is no time to waste…….. We must act now on the GWSA!

    But, who are we to believe……. the Secretaries and Commissioner today or the Governor when he vetoed the GWSA as a piece of junk a few months ago?

  13. Vermont’s impact on climate change revealed. Vermont is tiny. Vermont is 5/1000 of 1% of the world’s surface. Vermont has a population of 630,000. We have 1/100th of 1% of the world’s population. Vermonts total energy consumption is the lowest of any state in the nation. The forests of Vermont have removed more carbon dioxide than emissions produced in Vermont every year since 1990. U.S. Energy consumption makes up 17 percent of energy consumption in the world.

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