Keelan: How our money is spent by third parties

By Don Keelan

For years, Efficiency Vermont has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s electric users. It does this by charging a fee per kilowatt-hour to an electric users’ bill.

The organization, through its hundreds of employees, takes on weatherization projects throughout Vermont. They do this for residential, business and nonprofit organizations by offering subsidies, credits and education. Contractors are engaged by the consumer to do the physical weatherization work.

However, notice what’s unusual here: The nonprofit organization collects the funds from Vermonters. The funds bypass the state’s treasury, and therefore, the administration has no say in how the funds are used.

Don Keelan

Now comes along state Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington, with proposed legislation for another entity to be created to carry out some of the exact functions being done by Efficiency Vermont. The senator has proposed that an entity (committee) consisting of four legislators and eight citizens (two of them youngsters from the climate control movement) be in charge of a new fund that his legislation would create.

The legislation, basically a tax on the wealthiest Vermonters, is expected to raise $30 million over five years. The entity created, not the administration, will determine how the funds are used. Initially, Pollina proposed that the funds be used to weatherize homes for poor people, allow less fortunate Vermonters to have the funds to acquire electric vehicles, and create new public transportation networks.

What I found telling in Sen. Pollina’s suggestion, aside from the creation of another agency outside of government spending our funds, was who are the wealthiest 15,000 Vermonters. According to the senator, anyone earning more than $200,000 in annual income falls within that category.

What Efficiency Vermont takes from us, and what Pollina wishes to extract, pales from what is known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). If you have not heard about TCI, here is a description by John McClaughry, in his column from Jan. 1:

TCI is a multistate regional agreement to drive up the price of motor fuel (gasoline and on road diesel). It proposes to start at five, nine or seventeen cents per gallon, and escalate upward from that, with no declared maximum.

“Multistate” means the 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, along with the District of Columbia — with one exception: New Hampshire’s Gov. Chris Sununu feels the whole thing is a boondoggle and will not participate.

According to a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) of the TCI, released in December 2019 by the Georgetown Climate Center, the makings of a bureaucratic monster are being set in place. This is from page six of the MOU:

“Enterers,” which shall mean owners of Affected Fuel delivered into a Participating Jurisdiction from a facility in another jurisdiction for final sale or consumption in the Participating Jurisdiction. Enterers may not be required to hold allowances to cover emissions from Affected Fuel where a Position Holder sells Affected Fuel destined for final sale or consumption in a Participating Jurisdiction and the Position Holder holds allowances to cover emissions from such Affected Fuel. Sufficient documentation must exist to demonstrate that the compliance obligations are being fulfilled by the Position Holder (on behalf of the “Enterer”).

The TCI will be run by a regional organization with an executive committee comprised of two representatives from the participating jurisdictions (the states). The regional organization will also have authority to acquire and dispose of assets. Keep in mind that the collections of fees from fuel dealers will run in the billions of dollars.

In Vermont, in 2017, approximately 400 million gallons of gasoline were consumed. At 9 cents a gallon, a TCI surcharge to fuel distributors would come close to $36 million, of course passed on to Vermont consumers. The regional organization will have a huge say on how the funds are to be spent in Vermont.

Tens of millions of dollars are and will continue to be extracted from Vermonters in the name of climate change. Regarding how the dollars are spent, Vermonters will have no say. This is a bad precedent and only getting worse.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

Image courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org
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10 thoughts on “Keelan: How our money is spent by third parties

  1. The real issue is the willingness of our elected representatives to create entities outside government oversight and control and give these entities unsupervised authority to tax and spend, in the name of climate change. The “CC” term is a publically recognized phrase recognized as a “good cause” but the structure and process is bad for Vermont and bad for the US.
    Voters need to vote their minds and make their concerns known to Senators and Representatives.

    • Peter, you are absolutely correct, I call Vermont’s illness the “Curse of a Benevolent Cause”. Everybody and their brother are forming non-profits, committees and commissions across the state to create activism in the name of a good cause.

      Some of the biggest offenders pushing these global agendas on us are our 11 Regional Planning Commissions which were established 50 years ago. Then there are organizations like VCRD with their community visit side show, they solicit activism by making their goals seem like your ideas, thus inserting committees and boards into local municipalities.

      But lets not forget 350Vt, they currently exploit and inject children into the climate discussion to pressure and lobby our legislators.

      All of this in the name of a good cause that will have a negative impact on Vermonters standard of living and yet most of our legislators seem oblivious to what is causing our affordability problems. They seem to think a changing demographic is our problem, but I can assure you it is largely the result of the curse placed on us that is hiding behind the many good causes perpetuated by good intentions.

  2. Absurd, and criminally hidden, and incomprehensible to the ordinary Vermonter.
    Others tax us and others decide how to spend our money.

    Will this be like “One Care” for our medical and be a for FOR PROFIT organization – with HUGE payrolls

  3. But who could say this is a “bad” bill and who would fight against it?
    It’s only $400/yr per rich guy or gal times five years=$2000. That won’t hurt them nor make them leave.
    Just a drop in the bucket. Death by a thousand paper cuts.

    • From each according to their means, to each according to their means, Liberty cannot be redistributed without loosing it!

  4. Quite so. But suppose the VT “Enterer” buys motor fuel in a Participating Jurisdiction (MA) and distributes the fuel in VT which is NOT a participating Jurisdiction (if Gov Scott keeps his promises). Then the Regulated Terminal in MA will buy “allowances” and add their cost to the price paid by the VT Enterer. Result: 1. Vermont motorists pay even though VT is not Participating. 2. Vermont doesn’t get ANY money back from TCI because it’s not Participating.

  5. These guys are INSANE!!!! Doesn’t anyone in Montpelier have any brains???? It’s a broken record year after year – SPEND, SPEND. SPEND without a particle of thought as to the need. You can’t make this up. When will the folks go to the ballot box and this rediculous charade???? Can’t help but wonder whose deep pockets are benefiting from this program.

  6. Another two strong reasons for the wealthiest, and most mobile, Vermonters to pull up stakes and relocate to a lower taxed state.

  7. I sure glad I’m not in the 15K ” Wealthy Vermonter ” percentile, but then again I believe
    the remaining 600K Vermonters will get ” porked ” along the way when ” TCI ” is passed
    and we all know it will…………..Thanks to Progressive Demoncrats in the statehouse.

    I hope our Governor follows Gov. Chris Sununu who feels the whole thing is a boondoggle.

    Time will tell who wears the pants in our statehouse…………….

  8. Too bad about those 15,000 “wealthy Vermonters”. Not enough votes there to sidetrack such a boondogle.

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