DPS director of planning: S.5 goals are ‘impossible’ to meet

TJ Poor, director of planning for the Department of Public Service (bottom middle), gives testimony before the Vermont House Committee on Environment and Energy on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

By Rob Roper

For the past week the House Energy and Environment Committee has been taking background testimony on S.5, the Clean Heat Standard bill (or The UnAffordable Heat Act according to its critics), in anticipation of a walk-through Thursday of the actual legal language.

Witnesses included Jared Duval of the Energy Action Network, Richard Cowart of the Vermont Climate Council, a representative from the Attorney General’s Office, and a handful of members of the Agency of Natural Resources, including the Secretary Julie Moore.

But it was TJ Poor, director of planning for the Department of Public Service, who had the biggest bombshell to share with the lawmakers.

Poor gave a presentation on where things stand in the thermal sector in terms of greenhouse gas emission, the status of current programs, mandates under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and projections for the future.

The Climate Action Plan put forward by the Vermont Climate Council states that in order to meet its mandated greenhouse gas reduction targets in 2030, 90,000 Vermont homes need to be weatherized, over 140,000 cold climate heat pumps need to be installed in Vermont homes, and over 120,000 heat pump water heaters. Poor’s presentation made it clear that the labor force that currently exists in Vermont is not nearly sufficient to do that amount of work on that timeline.

There are 770 estimated trained workers in Vermont today capable of doing just the weatherization portion and an estimated 6200 are necessary. (These numbers have been revised upward since earlier reports.)

To complete 90,000 weatherization projects by 2030 would require an average of 15,000 per year between 2024 and 2030. Between 2013 and 2023, according to Poor’s chart, the number of annual projects completed came in at between 2,000 and 3,000, mostly on the low end of that spectrum.

With federal ARPA and Inflation Reduction Act money flooding into Vermont, those numbers are projected to increase as high as 5,000 by 2026 (still 10,000 shy of what is needed every year), but would then crash back to around 2,000 in 2027 when the federal money dries up.

Poor warned the committee, “We should be cognizant of what is technically feasible and actually really achievable, and be clear-eyed about when we identify when that target is not technically possible, and pivot to meeting our reductions in another way.”

Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Middlebury, asked, “Do you have a suggestion for the other way?”

Poor responded, “There’s a number of technology options that are limited in scope. It’s more heat pumps, it’s more biofuels, it’s more heat pump water heaters. … Or you could say, I think the Climate Council made a decision to go proportionally by sector with their targets. You could ramp up a different sector to meet the GWSA targets.”

But seconds later he had to admit, “Is there room there? I think the answer’s no — there’s probably not room in other sectors. They are really aggressive targets.”

And those other sectors, such as transportation and agriculture, are facing the same labor, supply chain, and funding obstacles as well.

Repr. Brian Smith, R-Derby, asked, “Has the word ‘impossible’ ever come into your meetings?”


Poor explained how the Council already lowered its targets from 120,000 new weatherization projects to 90,000: “I don’t want to say anything’s impossible. With the right amount of money you can probably do anything. But it’s also the workers, the housing to house the workers, there’s all these interrelated issues.”

“Let me rephrase it then,” said Smith. “With the current workforce and the current materials available, is this impossible?”

“With the current workforce I would say it’s impossible,” Poor answered. “I don’t think 700 people could do this many weatherization union units.”

Unfortunately for Vermont taxpayers, if we fail to do the impossible, as Laura Murphy, assistant attorney general from Attorney General’s Office reminded the committee in earlier testimony, the Global Warming Solutions Act allows anyone to sue the state at taxpayers’ expense.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

16 thoughts on “DPS director of planning: S.5 goals are ‘impossible’ to meet

  1. When are we going to hold the morons who created this mess to their votes. They obviously have no clue what they did and how it can’t be done. Like Shumlin, they need to be ostracized.

  2. This House Environment & Energy Committee is showing the value of having all parties represented on legislative committees. The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee has, for years, had a token Republican. I remember when it was Sen. Phil Scott, and I welcomed his challenging questions. But this year, Senate NRE has only Democrats, all true believers and not willing to challenge the legislation. Rather, they spent their challenges on attacking anyone who doesn’t support the legislation. It is refreshing to hear good questions coming from non-Democrats on House E&E. This is what makes for good public policy, though the committee is stacked and it would take some sort of epiphany for a majority to realize how absurd S.5 is.

  3. This all makes me laugh because this very group of people most likely had much to do with the broken labor market they created with their handling of the fake Covid scam.
    I’m sure they were ALL IN on the masks, the lockdowns, the forced vaccinations, the prolonged school closings and the destruction of the very labor force they now need.

    Now they haven’t got the labor force to carry out their fantasyland ideas.

    What goes around, comes around.

    Maybe they need to get up to speed with the reality of just how bad they’ve broken this nation:

    “An Extraordinary Change: Labor Data Reveals A Shocking Drop In Workplace Attendance Following Vax”

    And don’t forget what they’ve done to Education.. just where are these new techs going to come from? would they be the people that can’t read or do math?
    Maybe they should stop aborting their future workers?

    • Laura,
      Great comment.

      We will train the folks who came from anywhere in the world, walked across in-the-basement, senile Biden’s open border.

      They are unvetted, unskilled, inexperienced, incompetent, undocumented, dirt poor, from the bottom of their third world societies.

      We will give them health, education, job training, housing, food, clothing benefits from various bleeding-heart government programs,

      paid for by already-struggling Vermont taxpayers trying to make ends meet in a near-zero-real-growth Vermont economy, with 10%/y inflation,

      plus we will hand about $100 BILLION per year to the most corrupt neo-Nazi nation in Europe, “for as long as it takes”,

      plus at least $200 BILLION/y for CLIMATE FIGHTING scams

      With about 6 million walk-ins over four Biden years, and we are talking about some real money that is impoverishing the US hard-working people

      Vermont and the US are rapidly are descending into the Third World

  4. Anyone can sue? I guess I’ll be suing the state for having too many stupid liberals making too many stupid laws and goals that can’t be done.

  5. We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

  6. Technically feasible is one thing, logistically feasible is quite another.


    It took 3 people for 8 hours times 3 days, to install my 3 heat pumps with 6 heads, for $24,000

    140,000 heat pumps by 2030? Are you kidding me?

    EAN likely came up with that number in one of its glossy, rah-rah “studies”
    Legislators swallowed it hook line and sinker

    Folks are finally looking at the logistics and the-year-by-year budgets
    Some are even courageous enough to say the unsayable

    Folks are finding there are are not enough $BILLIONs in Vermont to make the HP dream for some/nightmare for others come true.

    Remember, you’all could do nothing!
    Take a year off to get your bearings, and find the world is spinning as before

    To make matters worse, EAN estimated much greater CO2 reduction per HP than is actually the case, by using “rosy” assumptions.
    That means HPs would contribute less to the unreasonable 2030 goal

    I ECONOMICALLY displace only 35% of my fossil Btus with electricity Btus, in my well-insulated/sealed house, based on 3 years of MEASURED data.

    About 80 to 90% of Vermont houses are worse than my house
    Each Vermont house would need at least 2 HPs, each with 2 heads.

    Only about 3 to 4% of all Vermont houses are suitable for HPs, to ECONOMICALLY displace 100% of fossil Btus.


      • Laura has a liberal arts education, which is fine, but that means she is highly unqualified to pontificate on and praise, etc., EAN glossy, rah-rah, “studies”, and be on that committee/council.

        She is one of those people who swallow these EAN studies hook, line, and sinker.

        I will calculate the CO2 reduction for my heat pumps. Get a seat!


          Comparison of CO2 Reduction in my House versus EAN Estimate

          CO2 Reduction due to HPs is minimal

          No HPs:
          CO2 of propane was 850 gal/y x 12.7 lb CO2/gal, from combustion = 4.897 Mt/y

          With HPs:
          The CO2 reduction is calculated in two ways using the:

          1) EAN method, based on commercial contracts, aka power purchase agreements, PPAs (market based)
          2) ISO-NE method, based on fuels combusted by power plants connected to the NE grid (location based)
          See Appendix for details.

          Market Based: Per state mandates, utilities have PPAs with Owners of low-CO2 power sources, such as wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, biomass, in-state and out-of-state. Utilities crow about being “low-CO2” by signing papers, i.e., without spending a dime.

          CO2 of propane was 550 gal/y x 12.7 lb CO2/gal, combustion only = 3.168 Mt/y
          CO2 of electricity was 2,489 kWh x 33.9 g/kWh = 0.084 Mt/y
          Total CO2 = 3.168 + 0.084 = 3.253 Mt/y
          CO2 reduction is 4.897 – 3.253 = 1.644 Mt/y, based on the 2018 VT-DPS “paper-based” value of 33.9 g CO2/kWh

          Location Based: CO2 of power sources connected to the NE grid

          CO2 of propane was 550 gal/y x 12.7 lb CO2/gal, combustion only = 3.168 Mt/y
          CO2 of electricity was 2,489 kWh x 317 g/kWh = 0.789 Mt/y
          Total CO2 = 3.168 + 0.789 = 3.897 Mt/y
          CO2 reduction is 4.897 – 3.897 = 0.939 Mt/y, based on the 2018 realistic ISO-NE value of 317 g CO2/kWh

          Cost of CO2 Reduction is (2059/y, amortizing – 204/y, energy cost savings + 200/y, service, parts, labor)/0.939 Mt/y, CO2 reduction = $2,188/Mt, which is outrageously expensive.

          EAN Excessive CO2 Reduction Claim

          EAN claims 90,000 HPs by 2025 would reduce 0.37 million Mt of CO2, in 2025, or 0.37 million/90,000 = 4.111 Mt/y, per HP.
          EAN claims 100% displacement of fuel, i.e., gas, propane, fuel oil.

          Those EAN claims are true, only for highly sealed/insulated houses, which represent about 2% of all Vermont houses.
          In addition, the average Vermont house would need 2 to 3 HPs to achieve 100% displacement.

          HP Operating Cost During Heating Season

          If HPs are operated at low temperatures, they have low COPs, which would result in a greater electricity cost per hour than using the displaced fuel.

          At 27.6% Fuel Displacement: Vermont houses with HPs, operated down to about 28F, would require 2,085 kWh/y, to deliver 21,400,000 Btu, at an average COP of 3.34, to displace 27.6% of space heat, at an electricity cost of $417/y, per VT-DPS survey

          At 35% Fuel Displacement: My HPs, operated down to 15F, would require about 2,489 kWh/y, to deliver 20,220,000 Btu, at an average COP of 2.64, to displace 35% of my space heat, at an extra electricity cost of $498/y

          At 100% Fuel Displacement: My HPs, operated down to -10F, would require about 8,997 kWh/y, to deliver 57,290,000 Btu, at an average COP of 2.07, to displace 100% of my space heat, at an electricity cost of $1,799/y.
          This would displace 850 gal of propane, at a cost of 850 x $2.339/gal = $1,988/y.
          My energy cost savings would be 1,988 – 1,799 = $189/y, on an investment of $24,000!!!

          • EAN claims 230,000 metric ton CO2 reduction by 92,000 heat pumps, per page 34 of URL, or 2.5 metric ton/HP, or 2500 kg/HP, or about 5,500 lb/HP

            That is a gross overstatement
            Show Vermonters the calculations and assumptions

            Each Vermont House would need 2 to 3 heat pumps, with 2 heads each, to displace 100% of fossil Btus with electricity Btus

            The installed turnkey cost is about $16000, for 2 HPs with 2 heads each.

            Number of houses = 92,000 HPs/2 = 46,000 houses
            Total capital cost 16000 x 46000 = $736 million

            It will be much more, because of high inflation and the cost of financing

          • With my 3 heat pumps I ECONOMICALLY displace about 35% of fossil Btus with electricity Btus.

            I could run my heat pumps at lower temperatures and displace more fossil Btus, but that would cost more per hour than my efficient propane furnace.

            I am a retired energy systems analyst
            I made the analysis and calculations

            EAN write glossy reports for consumption by lay people, including almost all Legislators, who likely will act like sheep during roll calls

          • Thank you Willem for taking the time to do these calculations. What if natural gas were used in your calculations instead of propane? I bet it would show this entire scam even more ridiculous then what you have proven it to be. The funny thing is across the country natural gas powered electrical generation power plants have been being built in various areas across the country because of the clean cheap reliable power they provide. Cleaner then burning wood chips that put more carbon in the air… Burlington

  7. What this is like is setting an unrealistic goal for weight loss with the only option if you don’t meet a clearly unattainable goal is to cut off an arm or a leg.

    • Actually, I suspect if the legislature doesn’t meet their weight loss gaol. they’ll insist we chop off our legs.
      As evidenced by sen.ms. rebecca white’s comments in committee, she and her family are all set- she admitted some family members purchase fuel in NH and haul it to VT. It is the elderly, poor and lower middle class that will pay a great price for the legislature’s folly.

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