Fact check: ‘Heat standard is good for homeowners and fuel sellers’

By David Flemming

Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee on March 9, Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Thetford, showed why he believed the Clean Heat Standard (H.715, likely to be voted on next week) could greatly assist Vermont in meeting its carbon reduction goals set forth by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2020. Briglin testified that the standard could benefit fossil fuel dealers, business owners and homeowners who rely on fossil fuel to heat their homes and businesses. Quite a statement given the backlash there has been!

David Flemming, policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

Briglin explained how his Energy & Technology Committee heard testimony from fossil dealers who “not only sell gallons (of fossil fuel), but they work on your furnace, they do plumbing and heating work. Some of them do weatherization work. … This is a real entrepreneurial opportunity for them, because they can work with their customer base who they sell gallons (of heating fuels) to. … Attaching a credit to this basically ascribes value to the work.”

It is generally believed that Vermont doesn’t currently have the labor force necessary to install heat pumps and other weatherization quickly enough to comply with the GWSA. Therefore, it would be quite convenient to turn all of Vermont’s fossil fuel dealers into climate ambassadors who will go into a house and install an air source heat pump.

But some people who are comfortable driving a truck in snowstorms simply won’t find the prospect of working in a dark, damp basement very attractive, no matter how much money the government throws at them. Briglin neglected to mention testimony from a fuel dealer with six employees servicing the home heating fuel needs of 1,600 Vermont homes, who testified that the heat standard “will put us out of business. We’ll be out of business day one. … We’ll just be gone.” For those fuel dealers who are claustrophobic or physically unable to do weatherization, there is no Plan B. Failure to adapt to the political climate will likely mean a fuel business’ closure.

Despite these drawbacks, in which heating fuel would be impossible to purchase because nearby fuel businesses had closed, Briglin proudly asserted that a “negative impact on price” could lead some fuel dealers to offer a better deal to customers on heating fuel, if these fuel dealers also sold weatherization. That doesn’t agree with testimony Briglin’s committee heard from Vermont fuel dealers who were not already involved with weatherization. The dealer’s testimony suggested that the cost of propane could go up to $8 to $10 per gallon (currently about $3.70/gal).

Worse still, the technology for replacing fossil fuels is not ready to be a building’s primary heat source. Briglin explained that one of the lauded “air source heat pumps” was not reliable enough to “cover their entire house” and was “supplementary” to fossil fuels for heating.

Even if homeowners enthusiastically embrace new, unproven heating systems and fuel sellers join the fight against climate change, the Clean Heat Standard will strafe one final group of Vermonters before its destruction is complete: taxpayers.

While H.715 costs less upfront than the price of a renovated cafeteria in the Statehouse, Briglin assures Vermonters that the price of the program is likely to dramatically increase, well beyond funding the salaries of “three very high-priced positions.” He admits: “$1.2 million dollars is not going to cover how this system works long term. You know, this is essentially setting up a regulatory process as to how we look at thermal heating in our state.”

If you think the Clean Heat Standard is wasteful at first glance, just wait another few years.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Infrogmation
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6 thoughts on “Fact check: ‘Heat standard is good for homeowners and fuel sellers’

  1. “Showing the world how “PROGRESSIVE THE LEGISLATORS ARE!

    A SIMPLE DEMONSTRATION WILL TELL ;:
    TURN OFF ALL FOSSIL FUELS FOR THE STATE HOUSE, INCLUDING THE FAFETERIA,
    AND ALL THE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICES..
    ADD IN THE DOZEN MOST VOCAL ADVOCATES HOMES!

    FULL REPORTS WILL COME BACK IN 24 HOURS.
    EVEN CAVE MEN AND INDIANS HAD FIRES,
    FIRE FOR HEAT, SURVIVAL AND COOKING IS A “GIFT FROM OUR CREATOR?!!.

  2. The full court press is on. Commentary in VTDIGGER is pushing the agenda. Headlines saying how it will save you money and make the environment clean but giving no information to support the claim.

  3. Since we seem to have studied every aspect of life in Vermont to cut our minuscule 0.03%
    of the supposed worlds carbon problem did they research cutting bloviating liberals output?
    I’m sure we could rid our output of a couple points just getting rid of them… 0.01% any one????

  4. And after we plug in our EVs, run our heat pumps and wait for the next progressive boondoggle, we might all want to add a woodstove so we can burn our furniture when it’s between electric heat or food or feed the horses so we can get to work. These idiots have no clue about the real world. Are you sick of this yet? Remember November 8th, your life may depend on this date.

  5. Rep. Briglin seems to have this all figured out. Has he consulted with his counterpart Rep. Scott Campbell, champion of useless registry- to check how many certified HVAC technicians currently work in Vermont? Perhaps a look at the Division of Fire Safety’s website for the number of licensed electricians?
    Undoubtedly, his hubris got in the way when researching the efficiency of mini-split heat pumps at low temperatures. Or, perhaps he fell asleep listening to projected electric consumption rates and the impact on Vermont’s electric grid.
    Obviously he is ignorant of his low-income constituent’s ability to gather up the funds for these “improvements” he mandates, while attempting to pay for the fuel they require to heat, cook and get to work with. As with all thing government, the wait list for government provided programs is long- so that heat pump might be a year or two out- during which the struggling constituent is trying to afford the $7-8 dollar a gallon propane or fuel oil- and the $4.39 and increasing gasoline.
    All in the pursuit of climate evangelism, Rep. Briglin seeks to make life in Vermont as difficult as possible- with the goal of showing the world how progressive Vermont is. Not to effect a measurable change to the environment, but to be the first. First in foolish isn’t best, Mr. Briglin.

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