Roper: A potentially deadly consequence of the ‘clean heat standard’

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The consequence of this is that we could see a significant number of Vermonters who don’t have access to any working heating source for an extended period of time. This doesn’t seem like a solid policy decision for a place with six months of winter.

By Rob Roper

Many of the businesses that deliver fossil-based heating fuels (oil, propane, natural gas, an kerosene) in Vermont are small, mom-and-pop operations. Some, as describe by Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, are just one person “with a truck and a cell phone.” These companies exist on the margins of financial viability. The “clean heat standard” now being contemplated by the Legislature as part of the Global Warming Solutions Act will drive many these fuel dealers out of business — and where will that leave their customers?

Testifying before the House Energy & Technology Committee, Paul Beauregard, of OnSite Propane, put it bluntly: “There are a lot of us out there who are smaller providers in the marketplace, and your clean heat credits will put us out of business. We’ll be out of business day one. And those people serve, I would say, twenty-five percent of the market … we’ll just be gone. And it will literally leave tens of thousands of Vermonters scrambling immediately to find a provider.” (YouTube, 2/2/22)

Beauregard’s company employs six people and serves about 1,600 homes. The average fuel dealer, he said, serves about 2,000 homes, and if one-third to one-half of those businesses close down because of the Global Warming Solutions Act, it would mean 60,000 to 100,000 Vermonters will be left “scrambling to find a new provider” (2/2/22) — which may not exist. The remaining suppliers in such a scenario do not have the capacity to absorb that many customers, and since the goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to eliminate in the not-too-distant future all fossil fuel use for heating, nobody in their right mind would invest in increasing their capacity to deliver fuels that will be de facto illegal in a decade. A lot of customers looking to stay warm through the winter may just be out of luck.

But, at the same time, the goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to switch homes and businesses over to electric heating options, such as cold climate heat pumps, and in many cases will provide subsidies for those who wish to do so. So, if you can’t find fuel for your old heating system, just get a new one!

The problem here — especially for those Vermonters who can no longer find anyone to deliver them oil or propane, etc. — is that there is not a labor force in Vermont capable of installing heat pumps fast enough to retrofit all those homes. Even if all goes according the best laid plans of the Climate Council, they admit meeting their goals for electrification of the home heating sector will require a five-fold increase in the labor force. And let’s be realistic, that is not going to happen.

So, what our Legislature is doing here is destroying the old home heating business model before the new government approved system can realistically take its place — if it ever can. The consequence of this is that we could see a significant number of Vermonters who don’t have access to any working heating source for an extended period of time. This doesn’t seem like a solid policy decision for a place with six months of winter.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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25 thoughts on “Roper: A potentially deadly consequence of the ‘clean heat standard’

  1. Sounds a lot like, Lets close Yankee and after that, we will negotiate power suppliers for us. absolutely genius.

  2. I’ll add to this..
    I live in NH not far from VT.
    My own oil man is one of those small oil guys over here with a truck and a cell phone.
    He used to do a lot of deliveries into Vermont.. you guys have become so over-regulated, costly and unduly burdensome that he quit delivering to Vermont years ago.
    Not only did this impact his own business- losing all these customers, but all those people in VT lost their oil guy.. and this was years ago.
    I am sure that a ton of drivers over here in NH along the border reached this same conclusion too.
    So your people all along the border have been losing access to fuel deliveries for a long time now.
    It’s a bad situation getting worse- not a bad situation just getting started.. this has been going on for years now.

  3. The House Energy & Technology Committee needs to hear from Vermonters about the reality of the potential result of their proposal. They did hear from a few fuel dealers but for the most part they are taking testimony from the idealists. If you have experience with heat pumps, if you rely on propane for heating, if you are low income, whatever your perspective, please share your perspective with the committee. https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2022/19

    This legislature is increasingly insular in who they are hearing from, mostly invited guests. The average Vermonter can write to them, they can ask to testify. Don’t just complain in comments (thank you True North for being one of the rare places people can comment), tell the legislators what life in Vermont is really like. I did. Got no response but it is still important to bring a dose of reality.

    • Annette,

      The Legislature prefers to be insular
      It does not want public, grassroots input, because that would show the public is peed off, and against the GWSA energy insanity.

      Remember, over the years the legislature will make laws to gather $billions in federal subsidies for the subsidized RE businesses

      Those businesses would not even exist without those subsidies.

      Everyone knows this; FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL

    • Speaking of being insular…….Being insular goes beyond the legislature…..It goes to the composition of the Climate Council membership disproportionally filled with climate change advocates who are pushing renewable energy industry friendly policies. It goes to a media too quick to exile those who voice opinions contrary to the their climate change dogma.

      Annette Smith, Willem Post commenting above and others have been banned by certain Vermont media over what they had to say about proposed climate change solutions and other matters.

      For Annette it has been even worse as powerful sources connected to the renewable energy industry brought fraudulent charges to the Attorney General against her in response to her environmental work……Charges that were quickly discredited once exposed to the light of day.

      Being insular or having little to no interest in differing opinions on the efficacy of proposed climate change solutions is the Vermont legislature’s attack on diverse thinking and our very Democracy……..An attacked abetted by Climate Council members allied with the renewable energy industry and certain of the media.

      Being insular in developing public policy is simply wrong…..It only results in bad policy forced on the people……And that’s what the citizens of Vermont are currently getting.

      • Exactly correct.

        And those poor policies, laws, rules and regulations are hampering the full spectrum of economic activities in Vermont, while Dem/Prog-driven government growth continues in an unrelenting manner.

        They cause Vermont to have a stagnant population and a real growth economic rate well below the US average

        Over-taxed, over-regulated, already-struggling Vermonters, with stagnant, real-after-tax wages, not keeping up with the 7.5% Biden inflation, have to pay for a grossly inefficient government behemoth far in excess of their capabilities..

        That burden is far greater than citizens pay in other states

  4. The main,discussion about all of this should be that heat pumps are worthless below 32° and vermonters constantly lose power durring the winter months. If we’re going to continur to allow these non logical thiniking politicians to make these laws then we must be able to hold them personally accountable for the results of the failures, the hardships and deaths they are gonna cause. Locations globally that endure winter can not leave fossil fuels safely

    • Tim,

      I have three, GOOD-QUALITY heat pumps in my well-insulated, well-sealed house; turnkey capital cost $24,000, less $2,400 subsidy from GMP

      Based on my prior analysis and subsequent operating experience, I found they are economic down to about 15F to 20F, depending on wind, cloudiness and sunshine.

      Below these temperatures, they are UNECONOMIC compared to my efficient propane furnace, which also supplies domestic hot water.

      I would need a separate DHW heater, if I had no propane furnace.

      I think it is completely idiotic, myopic, on part of the GWSA folks, to screw around with the heating systems of Vermonters.

      It would be much better to mandate highly insulated, highly sealed housing and other buildings, a measure that would have FINANCIAL AND COMFORT BENEFITS FOR AT LEAST 100 YEARS. HEAT PUMPS LAST ONLY ABOUT 15 YEARS.

      VERMONTERS WOULD FINALLY BEGIN TO THINK SOME SANITY RETURNED TO MONTPELIER

      Here is an article for your information:

      HEAT PUMPS ARE MONEY LOSERS IN MY VERMONT HOUSE, AS THEY ARE IN ALMOST ALL NEW ENGLAND HOUSES
      https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/heat-pumps-are-money-losers-in-my-vermont-house-as-they-are-in

      • Yeah Willem, you are right.

        We all largely live in hodge podge houses up here with hodge podge heating systems designed by whatever we could find on Craigslist or at The Dump.

        I have to laugh.
        They create a culture where they want us to reduce and re-use, well that is what we are doing.. because it’s all people can afford to do because of low wages and the high cost of living from over taxation and over regulation.

        People are thenpoor and do what they can do to get by.
        So people use some windows they found at the dump- many used them because they were taking something with life left in if from the landfill to reduce garbage.
        Some took them because they were free and they needed them.
        But the end game is this old housing stock we have, much of which is cobbled together.

        All the fancy equipment in the world matters none if the people cannot afford it.
        A lot of wise people won’t choose to go into debt to pay for it.

        They create something, and then they don’t like the looks of what they created because they don’t have the ability to think ahead and see consequences OR they do and want to then grow government because of those consequences.. none is right or good.

        You want a population of poor government dependent people?
        Well then don’t complain when they do what they have to to survive.
        Most people in survival mode don’t have the luxury to be worrying about saving the planet because they are too busy trying to save their own assses.

    • Tim,

      At least 90% of Vermonters live in energy hog houses.

      As a result, COLD CLIMATE heat pumps are UNECONOMICAL at 32F to 35F, compared to efficient oil, gas, propane furnaces, which also produce domestic hot water, AS PROVEN BY A VT-DPS-SPONS0RED STUDY OF 76 VERMONT HEAT PUMPS A FEW YEARS AGO

      All this is well known to the energy engineers at Efficiency Vermont, VT-DPS, VT-PUC, VELCO, GMP, EAN, VEIC, and folks on the unconstitutional GWSA committee, and legislators on the Environment/Energy Committees

      However, they will never publicly admit it, because it would upset their carefully crafted RE charade, aka apple cart

      Collectively, they have a big horn to drown out everyone (a version of their “Democracy”), and the VT hand-maiden, Fake Media is helping out

      • HERE IS THE VT-DPS STUDY

        Heat Pump Evaluation in Vermont by VT-DPS

        VT-Department of Public Service found, after a survey of 77 HPs installed in Vermont houses:

        – The annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200, but the maintenance and annual amortizing costs would turn that gain into a loss of at least $200.

        – On average, the HPs provided 27.6% of the annual space heat, and traditional fuels provided 72.4%. These numbers are directly from the survey data.

        – Owners started to turn off their HPs at about 28F, and very few owners were using their HPs at 10F and below, as shown by the decreasing kWh consumption totals on figure 14 of URL
        https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/2017%20Evaluation%20of%20Cold%20Climate%20Heat%20Pumps%20in%20Vermont.pdf

        – On average, an HP consumed 2,085 kWh during the heating season, of which:

        1) To outdoor unit (compressor, outdoor fan, controls) + indoor air handling unit (fan and supplemental electric heater, if used) to provide heat 1,880 kWh;
        2) Standby mode 76 kWh, or 100 x 76/2085 = 3.6%;
        3) Defrost mode 129 kWh, or 100 x 129/2085 = 6.2%. Defrost starts at about 37F and ends at about 10F.

        – Turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500; almost all houses had just one HP. See URLs.

        On average, these houses were unsuitable for HPs, and the owners were losing money.
        http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-source-heat-pumps-are-negative-in-vermont

        NOTE: Coefficient of Performance, COP = heat delivered to house/electrical energy to HP

        Displaced Fuel Percentage of Vermont Heat Pumps, based on survey

        As a result of a few years of complaints by various HP users, mainly about energy cost savings being much less than stated on various websites, VT-DPS was ordered by the Legislature to hire a consultant to perform a survey. CADMUS gathered the operating data of 77 HPs at 65 sites, to determine annual energy cost savings of the heat pumps.

        CADMUS calculated:

        – Space heat to all sites was 65 x 92 million Btu/site = 5,980 million Btu from all fuels. See URL, page 22
        – Heat from HPs was 77 x 21.4 million Btu/HP = 1,648 million Btu. See URL, page 21
        – Traditional systems provided 5980 – 1648 = 4,332 million Btu, or 4332/5980 = 72.4% of the total space heat.

        The energy cost savings were an average of about $200/HP per year, instead of the $1,200/y to $1,800/y bandied about by RE folks and GMP, VT-DPS, VPIRG, etc. After the CADMUS report, those estimates disappeared from booster websites. See URLs.

  5. EXCERPT from:

    HEAT PUMPS ARE MONEY LOSERS IN MY VERMONT HOUSE, AS THEY ARE IN ALMOST ALL NEW ENGLAND HOUSES
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/heat-pumps-are-money-losers-in-my-vermont-house-as-they-are-in

    I installed three heat pumps by Mitsubishi, rated 24,000 Btu/h at 47F, Model MXZ-2C24NAHZ2, each with 2 heads, each with remote control; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.
    The HPs have DC variable-speed, motor-driven compressors and fans, which improves the efficiency of low-temperature operation.
    The HPs last about 15 years. Turnkey capital cost was $24,000

    My Well-Sealed, Well-Insulated House

    The HPs are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, 3,600 sq ft, well-sealed/well-insulated house, except the basement, which has a near-steady temperature throughout the year, because it has 2” of blueboard, R-10, on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab, which has saved me many thousands of space heating dollars over the 35 years.

    I do not operate my HPs at 15F or below, because HPs would become increasingly less efficient with decreasing temperatures.
    The HP operating cost per hour would become greater than of my efficient propane furnace. See table 3

    High Electricity Prices

    Vermont forcing, with subsidies and/or GWSA mandates, the build-outs of expensive RE electricity systems, such as wind, solar, batteries, etc., would be counter-productive, because it would:

    1) Increase already-high electric rates and
    2) Worsen the already-poor economics of HPs (and of EVs)!!

    PART 1

    Energy Cost Reduction is Minimal

    – HP electricity consumption was from my electric bills
    – Vermont electricity prices, including taxes, fees and surcharges, are about 20 c/kWh.
    – My HPs provide space heat to 2,300 sq ft, about the same area as an average Vermont house
    – Two small propane heaters (electricity not required) provide space heat to my 1,300 sq ft basement
    – I operate my HPs at temperatures of 15F and greater; less $/h than propane
    – I operate my traditional propane system at temperatures of 15F and less; less $/h than HP

    – My average HP coefficient of performance, COP, was 2.64
    – My HPs required 2,489 kWh to replace 35% of my fuel.
    – My HPs would require 8,997 kWh, to replace 100% of my fuel.

    – The average Vermont house COP is about 3.34
    – The average Vermont house requires 2,085 kWh to replace 27.6% of its fuel, per VT-DPS/CADMUS survey. See URL

    Before HPs: I used 100 gal for domestic hot water + 250 gal for 2 stoves in basement + 850 gal for Viessmann furnace, for a total propane of 1,200 gal/y

    After HPs: I used 100 gal for DHW + 250 gal for 2 stoves in basement + 550 gal for Viessmann furnace + 2,489 kWh of electricity.

    My propane cost reduction for space heating was 850 – 550 = 300 gallon/y, at a cost of 2.339/gal = $702/y
    My displaced fuel was 100 x (1 – 550/850) = 35%, which is better than the Vermont average of 27.6%
    My purchased electricity cost increase was 2,489 kWh x 20 c/kWh = $498/y

    My energy cost savings due to the HPs were 702 – 498 = $204/y, on an investment of $24,000!!

  6. Excerpt from:

    CHEVY BOLT CATCHES FIRE WHILE CHARGING ON DRIVEWAY IN VERMONT
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/chevy-bolt-catches-fire-while-charging-on-driveway-in-vermont

    THETFORD; July 2, 2021 — A fire destroyed a 2019 Chevy Bolt, 66 kWh battery, battery pack cost about $10,000, or 10000/66 = $152/kWh, EPA range 238 miles, owned by state Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Thetford, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Technology.

    He had been driving back and forth from Thetford, VT, to Montpelier, VT, with his EV, about 100 miles via I-89
    He had parked his 2019 Chevy Bolt on the driveway, throughout the winter, per GM recall of Chevy Bolts
    He had plugged his EV into a 240-volt charger.
    His battery was at about 10% charge at start of charging, at 8 PM, and he had charged it to 100% charge at 4 AM; 8 hours of charging.
    Charging over such a wide range is detrimental for the battery. However, it is required for “range-driving”, i.e., making long trips. See Note

    NOTE: Range-driving is an absolute no-no, except on rare occasions, as it would 1) pre-maturely age/damage the battery, 2) reduce range sooner, 3) increase charging loss, and 4) increase kWh/mile, and 5) increase the chance of battery fires.

    Charging at 32F or less
    Li-ions would plate out on the anode each time when charging, especially when such charging occurred at battery temperatures of 32F or less.

    Here is an excellent explanation regarding charging at 32F or less.

    Fire in Driveway

    Firefighters were called to Briglin’s house on Tucker Hill Road, around 9 AM Thursday.
    Investigators from the Vermont Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit determined:

    1) The fire started in a compartment in the back of the passenger’s side of the vehicle
    2) It was likely due to an “electrical failure”. See Note

    NOTE: Actually, it likely was one or more battery cells shorting out, which creates heat, which burns nearby items, which creates a fire that is very hard to extinguish. See Appendix

    GM Recall of Chevy Bolts

    In 2020, GM issued a worldwide recall of 68,667 Chevy Bolts, all 2017, 2018 and 2019 models, plus, in 2021, a recall for another 73,000 Bolts, all 2020, 2021, and 2022 models.
    GM set aside $1.8 BILLION to replace battery modules, or 1.8 BILLION/(68,667 + 73,000) = $12,706/EV.

    Owners were advised not to charge them in a garage, and not to leave them unattended while charging, which may take up to 8 hours; what a nuisance!
    I wonder what could happen during rush hour traffic, or in a parking garage, or at a shopping mall, etc.
    Rep. Briglin heeded the GM recall by not charging in his garage. See URLs

    NOTE:
    – Cost of replacing the battery packs of 80,000 Hyundai Konas was estimated at $900 million, about $11,000 per vehicle
    – EV batteries should be charged from 20 to 80%, to achieve minimal degradation and long life, plus the charging loss is minimal in that range
    – Charging EVs from 0 to 20% charge, and from 80 to 100% charge:

    1) Uses more kWh AC from the wall outlet per kWh DC charged into the battery, and
    2) Is detrimental to the battery.
    3) Requires additional kWh for cooling the battery while charging.

    – EV batteries must never be charged, when the battery temperature is less than 32F; if charged anyway, the plating out of Li-ions on the anode would permanently damage the battery.

  7. EXCERPT from:

    HEAT PUMPS REDUCE VERY LITTLE CO2 IN MY VERMONT HOUSE, AS THEY DO IN ALMOST ALL NEW ENGLAND HOUSES
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/heat-pumps-are-money-losers-in-my-vermont-house-as-they-are-in

    I installed three heat pumps by Mitsubishi, rated 24,000 Btu/h at 47F, Model MXZ-2C24NAHZ2, each with 2 heads, each with remote control; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.

    The HPs have DC variable-speed, motor-driven compressors and fans, which improves the efficiency of low-temperature operation.
    The HPs last about 15 years. Turnkey capital cost was $24,000. GMP, the electric utility, provided a $2,400 subsidy.

    My Well-Sealed, Well-Insulated House

    The HPs are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, 3,600 sq ft, well-sealed/well-insulated house, except the basement, which has a near-steady temperature throughout the year, because it has 2” of blueboard, R-10, on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab, which has saved me many thousands of space heating dollars over the 35 years.

    Operating HPs at Low Temperatures

    On 22 January, 2022, the temperature was -20F at my house. As a test, I operated my kitchen heat pump. After about 15 minutes, there was lukewarm air coming from the wall-mounted unit, but it was much less warm, than it would be at, say 15F. That lukewarm air did not heat my kitchen.

    Conclusion: The name cold-climate HP is merely an advertising gimmick. HPs are economic down to about 15F in Vermont.
    I do not operate my HPs at 15F or below, because they would become increasingly less efficient with decreasing temperatures.
    The HP operating cost per hour would become greater than of my efficient propane furnace. See table 3

    The Vermont state government wants to electrify-everything (heat pumps, electric cars, and transit and school buses, no matter the very high turnkey capital cost. The operating cost savings are minimal, as proven by a VT-DPS survey of operating data of 77 existing HP installations.

    The only beneficiary is Canadian-owned GMP, which would sell oodles more high-priced electricity. Everyone else gets screwed, while “fighting” climate change, a la Don-Quixote tilting at wind mills.

    If you have a wood stove or pellet stove, by all means use it, because it is the lowest-cost way to space heat houses, including standard Vermont energy-hog houses. A wood-burning fireplace has negative efficiency, i.e., is sucks more heat out of a space, than it adds heat to a space. Do not use it at low temperatures. See URLs

  8. Reducing the number of businesses and the population numbers in Vermont will reduce the state’s carbon footprint by the proven effective Stalinist method. The goal can be met! The successfully carbon dioxide reduced air, however, will have blown over to New Hampshire by tomorrow.

  9. I often wonder what climate warrior politicos are getting for their efforts to push their destructive net zero agenda? Are they gifted solar power systems with Tesla walls? Donations to their campaign war chests, vacations, cruises, hotel accommodations, use of private jets, etc.?
    Are there no checks in the state constitution to prevent one party from pursuing a harmful course?

  10. The state following the lead of the federal government running ahead to shut off existing fuel and energy sources without a reliable alternative with sufficient capacity, including the additional demand from “all things electric”, and new capacity to provide storage “recharging” when the wind and solar systems are offline 75% of the time.
    High risk gamble on weak science.

  11. In regard to the “clean heat standard”, Rob Roper tells us: This doesn’t seem like a solid policy decision for a place with six months of winter.”…….. Roper is a gentleman and speaks in a tone that goes beyond being kind in describing the clean heat standard as only being “not a solid policy decision”.

    As opposed to simply formulating poor policy, the Climate Council is forcing policy and actions on the people of Vermont that are driven by far left climate ideology. Thinking that is irresponsible, dangerous and risks state wide economic suicide. It is policy that the largest countries and polluters on the planet, China and India (Two billion people) are unwilling to get behind.

    The Climate Council has proposed actions without defining costs, actions that will be disruptive beyond anything previously experienced in Vermont and all this is being done knowing that it is highly unlikely that the goals can be even be achieved anywhere close to time tables cited or ever accomplished.

    It gets worse as I repeat again, Rep Scott Campbell, who sat on the House Energy and Technology and heard all the Global Warming Solution Act testimony has stated to me in writing:

    “Let me start by repeating that no one, least of all me, believes Vermont can stop climate change — or even affect climate change.”

    So the legislature has ordered that Vermont will be turned up side down on climate change knowing “….no one believes Vermont can stop -or even affect climate change.

    This goes way beyond poor policy…….This is insanity.

    • It’s more than insanity! It’s greed. These climate warrior politicos are being rewarded by the RE Industries for pushing their agendas. The power industry especially, will realize major profit gains because everyone will be using double or more power than now.

    • These People are incapable of a sane thought. They SIT on their brains in hopes that they can hatch a thought!!!

  12. One problem with this entire plan is most older homes have hot water heating system that run at 140 degrees. Heat pumps that provide hot water only heat it to 110 degrees. At 0 temperatures you will not even get 110 degree water. — The liberals are trying to freeze people or they are incredibly stupid.

    Me, I heat in winter with wood that I cut in the National Forest. Sometimes I turn on the oil burner to bring the system up to temperature faster or when I’m away for hours and know the fire in the wood boiler will burn out. — I’ll be getting fuel oil in 5 gal. cans from NY and MA if I can’t get my tank filled. — And usually a full tank will last me 2+ years.

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