Roper: Legislators seek to avoid accountability for disastrous energy bill

By Rob Roper

Since January, the House Energy & Technology Committee has been batting about a bill that would impose a “clean heat standard” on consumers of fossil fuels used to heat our homes and businesses. In other words, pretty much all of us.

Rob Roper is on the Board of Directors of the Ethan Allen Institute.

It’s clear that this policy is going to have disastrous repercussions. With inflation, and federal energy policy and war in Ukraine already driving up the cost of oil, kerosene, natural gas and propane, the clean heat standard will — intentionally — make this even worse. Vermonters will find it even more expensive to stay warm in winter.

Make no mistake, the majority of legislators very much want to do this to you. It is their objective in passing the bill, because they don’t like fossil fuels. What they don’t want is for you to hold them accountable for the meteor-like impact they have directed at your wallet.

So, to that end, the way the clean heat standard bill works is the Legislature passes some very broad goals and outlines around the generically popular notions of reducing thermal greenhouse gas emissions while handing off the details — the real dirty work of crushing the consumer, wiping out small businesses and taking the state economy — to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). To be clear about what’s happening here: the Legislature is authorizing that an unelected body design and implement a program that will have major economic consequences while having no idea what it will cost, how (or even if) it can work.

This is by design, because they want plausible deniability that they knew what this law would do when they voted yes. But they do know. They just do not care.

Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Chittenden, put forward an amendment that would force the Legislature to vote (for or against) the PUC plan after it is complete. This way the Legislature would cast a vote knowing full well what the costs, mandates, bureaucratic overhead and economic impact analysis predict.

That, argued the seven members of the Energy & Technology Committee who shot down the proposal, would be disrespectful to the PUC. What a load of horse manure!

They also said that if what the PUC came back with really had problems, the Legislature was still free — though not obligated — to do something.

To this, Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, one of the two committee members who supported the Harrison Amendment, noted that Act 46, the school district consolidation law passed in 2015, was created along the same lines. And, when it became clear that law was not being implemented as the Legislature ostensibly intended, and the unelected State Board of Education was exerting authorities under the law no one ostensibly thought they had, the Legislature did absolutely nothing to correct the situation.

They just shrug their shoulders and say, “We didn’t do this!” But, yes they did.

Let’s not fall for this again.

Rob Roper is on the Board of Directors of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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8 thoughts on “Roper: Legislators seek to avoid accountability for disastrous energy bill

  1. GWSA-MANDATED HEAT PUMPS ARE A MONEY-LOSING TRAVESTY FOR MOST PEOPLE

    Read my article to become smarter BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

    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

    Vermont “Electrify-Everything” Goals Will Cost $Billions and Will Reduce Little CO2

    The Vermont state government wants to electrify-everything (heat pumps, electric cars, and transit and school buses, no matter the:

    1) Very high turnkey capital cost,
    2) Very meager energy cost savings
    3) Very meager CO2 reductions, on an A-to-Z, lifetime basis.

    VT-DPS Survey of Vermont Heat Pumps

    VT-DPS commissioned CADMUS to perform a survey of Vermont heat pumps, after numerous complaints from HP users regarding: 1) high electric bills and 2) minimal annual savings

    The average energy cost savings regarding HPs was about $200/HP, as proven by the CADMUS survey report of operating data of 77 existing HP installations.

    Those meager energy savings would be more than offset by the annual amortizing cost of $4,500/HP at 3.5%/y for 15 years, plus any annual maintenance costs, and parts and labor costs. HPs are money losers for Vermonters. See URLs

    The result of Vermont’s HP saga been:

    1) Lucrative benefits to the Efficiency-Vermont-Approved HP installers
    2) Lucrative benefits to Canadian-owned GMP, which sells oodles more high-priced electricity.
    3) Everyone else getting royally screwed; an example of “fighting” climate change, a la Don-Quixote tilting at wind mills.

    My Experience with Heat Pumps in my Well-Insulated, Well-Sealed House

    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.
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-co2-reduction-of-HPs-is-based-on-misrepresentations

    My house has a wall-hung, efficient, propane furnace to provide: 1) space heating, and 2) domestic hot water, year-round.

    The basement 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; the thermal storage of the concrete acts as a temperature stabilizer, which has saved me many thousands of space heating dollars over 35 years.

    Winter Operation: Downstairs heads are used for space heating during winter. Upstairs heads are always off during winter.
    If the sun is shining, my south-facing house warms up, and the HPs can be turned off by about 10 AM. They are turned on again around 4 to 5 PM

    The basement has two small propane heaters to provide space heat to my 1,300 sq ft basement during winter; that heat rises to warm up the first floor. The heaters require no electricity, which is beneficial during a power outage.

    Summer Operation: The downstairs and upstairs heads are used for space cooling during hot days in summer

    Hourly Operating Cost of HPs Versus Efficient Propane Furnaces

    Cold Weather Test: 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 from 6 AM to 9 AM, so I turned off the HP and turned on my wall-hung, propane heater.

    Conclusion: 1) The name cold-climate HP is merely an advertising gimmick, and 2) HPs are economic:

    1) Down to about 15F to 20F in my well-sealed, well-insulated house, depending on wind and sun conditions
    2) Down to about 28F to 35F in average Vermont houses, which are energy hogs, by modern standards

    Burning Wood or Wood Pellets

    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 Vermont energy-hog houses.

    Be aware, the exhaust of woodstoves has mostly submicron particles (less than one millionth of a meter), that are most harmful to health, especially to: 1) people with heart and lung diseases, and 2) infants and children

    A wood-burning open 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 temperatures less than 35F.

    These URLs are provided for information:

    Read the rest of the article.

  2. The Legislature created the Vermont Climate Council last year for the same purpose. Our legislators don’t want to take responsibility for the “out of this world” findings, recommendations and laws being imposed upon us by these appointed committee members, praying that we will forget what entity it was that created the committees. Very clever. When the stuff hits the fan and the citizens revolt, the legislators can then say, “Don’t blame us! The Committee is responsible for razing hell with your lives.”
    It’s worked before and it will continue to work as long as we keep electing people who are un- or non-qualified to serve in our interests. As in the cases of many of our elected members to Congress, too many of our state representative officials are far more interested in holding their governmental positions than they are in serving the best interests of their constituents and that will continue as long as we, the electors, don’t take the time and care enough to keep track of what they are actually doing and stupidly keep voting them back into office. IT’S OUR FAULT!

  3. We are being governed by decree. This is not a representative form of government, it’s government by selected committee members. The people of this state need to figure out how we get out of this mess. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that ” vote them out ” is going to do it.

  4. Lets start by eliminating all fossil fuels from the state house for a full year
    We need a proper trial to study the results.!

    • Sounds good in theory, but the reality is state government has made extravagant use of Internet communications for all of their business.

  5. The Leftist majority in the VT Legislature is passing this and more harmful bills which will cause hardships for Vermont residents. They must be held accountable for causing problems.

  6. It’s way beyond time to BOOT THEM ALL OUT Wholesale,that’s the out they are in search of.Elect replacements that are acceptable to the people and SCRAP all the Damed Climate Change legislation on the books.

  7. Great commentary Mr. Roper. Right on target. It is likely as with Act 46 there will also never be any follow up on cost and benefits and whether any of the goals have actually been achieved.
    Looks like another veto by the Governor on this one. Let’s keep our Representatives feet to the fire to ensure that it does not get overridden.

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