Senate committee hears ‘stupid heat standard’ has ‘unachievable’ goals, increases costs on ratepayers

On Tuesday, Annette Smith, executive director for Vermonters for a Clean Environment, testified before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy regarding Vermont’s plans to meet ambitious reduction targets for carbon dioxide emissions.

As lawmakers discuss S.5 “relating to affordably meeting the mandated greenhouse gas reductions for the thermal sector through electrification, decarbonization, efficiency, and weatherization measures,” Smith said the bill should be called the “stupid heat standard.”

“It’s a solution in search of a problem and it’s a bad idea,” she said.

Annette Smith

Annette Smith is the director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment

According to Smith, Vermont has been incrementally adopting climate policies that take the state in the wrong direction.

“I call it death by a thousand cuts,” she said. “We are dealing with a biodiversity crisis, and that’s where Vermont really could be a leader in protecting nature.”

She highlighted numerous examples of green energy projects taking up valuable land across the state, be it for agriculture or forest.

No help from other environmental groups

She said that prime-ag soil and forests are getting spoiled by large solar farms that are steadily popping up around the state, but that no other environmental groups are getting involved.

“I’m just getting new calls [about this] all the time and it’s unbelievable,” she said. “… I’ve been saying for years that we’ve got to do something to establish some policies to protect our forests and fields, and the whole state is just sitting ducks.”

Towns not getting a voice in energy projects

In particular, Smith criticized Act 174, passed in 2016, which was written to give towns a voice in the siting of energy projects. The law is “not working as intended,” she said, adding that “we need a new strategic approach to energy development.”

Vermont is committing at least $250 million to green technology upgrades and infrastructure. In addition, the federal government’s Inflation Reduction Act has been described as the largest investment in green initiatives in America’s history.

Smith said S.5 is “distracting this important committee from the very necessary energy policy work and implementation discussions that we should be having, that has not happened in recent years in the legislature.”

As energy is increasingly electrified, Smith noted, the demand for electricity will rise.

“Where is the renewable electricity going to come from to fuel all this new consumption?” she said. “And if it is to be decided in Vermont, is the current developer-driven and developer-biased process the most equitable, just and environmentally sound method to achieve this transition?”

Smith also called Vermont’s emission reduction mandates “unachievable.” One reason is the role of the Public Utility Commission

“[We are] pushing more work on the PUC, that is already doing more than any other PUC in the country in siting telecommunication and energy projects,” she said, adding that burdening the commission has “completely harmed the average Vermonter.”

A ‘convoluted’ credit system

A key component of climate proposals involves the purchasing and selling of green carbon credits. Smith said S.5 includes “a convoluted credit system whose primary beneficiary will be Green Mountain Power, Vermont Gas Systems, and those installers who are already doing what the Clean Heat Standard would require.”

A lack of accountability

She also criticized the Vermont Climate Council for not having representation from rural areas, and said the basis for forcing Vermonters to move to an electrified energy system has “not been supported by actual data.”

“You should require VGS [Vermont Gas Systems] to provide data on the fossil-fuel consumption reduction they have seen as a result of electric heat pump and water heater installations to date,” Smith said. “That’s one regulated utility that has data — let’s see what the data is.”

At the beginning of the meeting, reporters were asked to leave the room when its COVID-related limit of 10 was reached. The policy has prompted some journalists to threaten legal action.

Smith’s entire testimony given Tuesday to the committee can be viewed online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Annette Smith
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10 thoughts on “Senate committee hears ‘stupid heat standard’ has ‘unachievable’ goals, increases costs on ratepayers

  1. We all understand the liberal nonsense, as they always have the cart before the horse
    no foresight just an agenda……………………

    We could take the Climate crusader’s proposals, if they really looked at the world and who
    are the real culprits, it surely isn’t Vermont………. fools in charge of a new world agenda !!

    What to save Vermont, then stop the nonsense and burdensome demands that will have
    zero effect on anything, I was wrong, it will affect your financial way of life !!

    Wake up people .

  2. Stupid is as Stupid does, the new definition of VT legislators. When your whole agenda is to be like Commifornia your not being true to the rural state of VT.
    They should all be impeached for traitorous activity to the citizens and state. Wake up stupid ignorant voters, you keep shooting yourself in the foot..and me too which really pizzes me off.

      • Yup David, it’s because liberalism IS A MENTAL DISEASE, and our states liberals are the special needs kind. They have no ideas of their own so just like the lemmings they are follow the crowd. Cross your fingers that Hair Gel newsome don’t get put in bidens spot when he’s impeached.

  3. Annette is spot on. In my own situation, we have a very efficient System 2000 oil boiler, and a small house which is unsuitable due to layout to mini-split heat pumps. Our fossil fuel consumption is very low.

    Our electrical grid here in unreliable and goes out during frequent storms. Forcing us to go to a hydronic ground-source heat pump is incredibly expensive to install, and even more expensive to operate.

    This is no “solution” at all.

  4. If anyone deserves a statue in the middle of Montpelier, it is Annette Smith, who has been advocating for sanity and common sense for decades, in Montpelier.

    Heat pumps are financially ruinous when it is 0F to 10F outside.

    They use a lot of electricity and provide little heat at that temperature, all hat, no cattle, based on 3 years of experience with my 3 Mitsubishi HPs, 24,000 Btu each, with 6 heads, to cover all rooms, turnkey cost $24,000.

    For a house to replace 100% of fossil Btus with electricity’s Btus, it has to be highly insulated and highly sealed, with triple-pane R-7 windows, and R-8 to R-10 doors, and R-40 walls, and R-60 ceiling, and R-20 basement with insulation ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE CONCRETE FROM FOUNDATION FOOTING UPWARDS AND UNDER THE BASEMENT SLAB, and with air-to-air heat recovery’s system.

    NOTE : If you use 100 psi blue board, you can put it UNDER the footing as well.

    GMP likes houses to be not too energy efficient, because that way GMP sells more electricity

    Vermont should have a strict, PERFORMANCE building code, to require all housing to meet or exceed the above R-values, etc.

    Any other GWSA efforts should have a much lower priority

    • Be careful what you wish for Willem, an army of pseudo engineers as insulation police isn’t going to make things better. The market will bring advancement in building envelope technology- I cringe at the thought of the legislature determining building code for Vermont.
      These politicians lack the skill set and understanding to determine codes- look what’s been corrupted so far.
      Your experience with heating your house and the costs to install- especially the inefficiencies of heat pumps in below 20F temps is good, factual information that most legislators couldn’t care less about. This is climate evangelism. Emotion, not fact rules any argument…along with lobbyists and lawyers and politicians that will become much wealthier, whether Vermont achieves it’s ridiculous climate goals or not. It’s a rigged game.

  5. Very stupid, and extremely un acheivable. “They’d rather see people freeze to death in thier own home before you burn fuel oil or turn a gas stove on, what a joke

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