McClaughry: Thermal energy efficiency tax vanishes for now

By John McClaughry

Last week I devoted three radio broadcasts to Sen. Chris Bray’s proposed Thermal Energy Efficiency Tax, disguised as a charge on your electric bill to raise millions of dollars to subsidize 120,000 home weatherizations over the next 10 years.

The bill allowed the Public Utility Commission to set whatever rate it cared to, on natural gas, heating oil, electricity and propane to raise however many millions it might take to do all that. That’s what I have called “taxation by unaccountable strangers” in place of taxation by legislators who you can vote out of office.

Well, a day after my column and broadcasts came out, Sen. Bray and his Natural Resources and Energy Committee had a sudden change of heart. They scrapped the entire Thermal Energy Efficiency Tax bill and ginned up a replacement. It calls for adopting the same enormous goals of home weatherization, but the tax to pay for achieving them has vanished from sight. Instead, the bill asks for $35 million dollars of the money floating around the State House from federal deficit spending, to set up task forces to generate all sorts of reports, create an Energy Savings Fund to accept whatever tax dollars can be found, and charge the Public Utility Commission to present its recommendations for extracting money from ratepayers to pay for all this stuff.

So the Bray committee ran for cover now, but promised to come back and try again next year.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr/

3 thoughts on “McClaughry: Thermal energy efficiency tax vanishes for now

  1. It looks like the RE cat is out of the bag in California.

    Too have 100% RE electricity, clean or not:

    Its plan for wind and solar is to increase the RATE of capacity installation by THREE times
    Its plan for storage is to increase the RATE of capacity installation by EIGHT times.
    It is amazing what “free” federal COVID money will be used for by “inventive” politicians.

    We are talking tens of $billions EACH YEAR, just in California!!!

    In 2019, 63% of California electricity came from fossil.
    About 30% was imports of coal, gas and hydro electricity.

    California likely is too optimistic

    It will soon be evicting RE MAVEN Newsom, the Governor.
    Lecherous Como in New York is on his way out as well.

    We will have to wait FOREVER for California to be successful!!

    Solar panels, and wind turbines, and battery storage, all over the place, would at least triple CA electricity costs/kWh, even if battery costs decreased.

    What a visible/environmental mess, on top of the 10-lane highways everywhere.


    Californians would face a poor economic prospect, plus be loaded down with at least 10 to 15 million unverified, unhealthy, uneducated, unskilled, undocumented, illegal, just-walk-in, immigrants, thanks to the so-called Biden programs.

    No funds would be a valuable in California, because people with means would leave, i.e., California would NEVER have the means to carry out 100% RE.

    NOTE: In reality Biden has NOTHING to do with these programs, but his anonymous/never-visible handlers do.
    He never thought of these programs while in Congress for 47 years.

  2. Thank you Mr. McClaughry for speaking out with a conservative voice of truth. Our leaders fear cat getting out of bag awakening of electorate more than anything – the Golden Doom would not be a joke if voters awakened to the unending and appalling antics of one-party rule ignored by VTs Pravda-like media and they know it, and would begin to question the value of purchasing Marxist-media who unquestioningly accept the lies spoonfed as truth.

    If Chancellor Phil is one of the most popular governors despite the unmitigated disaster he has shepherded icluding spectre of mandated vaccines – we can guess where they’re getting news and it’s not here lol

  3. John Mc.

    “Last week I devoted three radio broadcasts to Sen. Chris Bray’s proposed Thermal Energy Efficiency Tax, disguised as a charge on your electric bill to raise millions of dollars to subsidize 120,000 house weatherizations over the next 10 years.”

    Bray surely knows:

    1) It takes about $10,000 to have an Efficiency Vermont-approved contractor expensively insulate and seal a typical Vermont, 2000 sq. ft, energy-hog house.



    VT-DPS found after a survey of real-world use of 87 heat pumps, the energy savings were , ON AVERAGE, 200/y, but the amortizing costs turned that gain into a loss, i.e., ON AVERAGE, these houses were unsuitable.


    2) The contractor has to be EV-approved for the owner to get the EV subsidies and refunds, a catch 22; a boon for contractors, a bane for owners. My contractor showed up with a late-model, $60,000 Lexus SUV. I drive a SUBARU Outback!!

    Vermont “treats” about 1000 houses per year, at a cost of $10 million.
    Most of the owners have to be low-income to qualify.
    This subsidized program is of special benefit to landlords who own old apartment buildings in Burlington and other Dem/Prog-run cities.

    Bray wants to “treat” 12,000 houses PER YEAR, i.e., spend TWELVE TIMES as much money, i.e., about $120 million.

    A typical VT household uses about 600 gal/y.

    $120 million/200,000 households = $600 per household, equivalent to $1.00 SURCHARGE PER GALLON paid by 200,000 owners!!!

    The other owners would be exempt because they have low incomes.


    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 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 propane system, 95%-efficient in condensing mode, is used on cold days, 15 F or less, because heat pumps would have low efficiencies, i.e., low Btu/kWh, at exactly the same time my house would need the most heat; a PERVERSE SITUATION!!

    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

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