Senate Energy Committee to take on carbon costs, electric vehicles, solid waste

MONTPELIER — With the state’s energy goal of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050 still in view, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy plans to discuss net metering, electric cars, the costs of carbon, biofuels and more in the upcoming legislative session.

Among the many green-energy initiatives that could appear in committee is the the Essex Plan, a carbon tax proposal that would raise the cost of carbon-based fuels while subsidizing electric alternatives.

state of Vermont

State Sen. Christopher Bray, D-Addison

State Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, the chairman of the committee, says he expects the plan to appear before lawmakers, but he’s not aware of who may become sponsors.

“I myself am not going to be a sponsor of the Essex bill, but I’ll be a little surprised if some member of the Senate doesn’t propose it in a bill form,” he told True North Reports.

He said while some have suggested a carbon tax would have little chance of success, he isn’t ruling anything out. “To me, every bill should get a fair hearing,” he said.

Common objections to a carbon tax include the possibility that elevated gasoline prices would cause Vermonters to cross state lines to fill up vehicles. Another objection is that individual states aren’t large enough to affect CO2 levels, meaning the plan would have a symbolic impact on the environment but a real impact on the economy.

Even so, Bray found other reasons to back the plan, including a 2013 MIT study that estimated 200,000 Americans die premature deaths each year from breathing air pollution. He gave an example of how that might factor in to the discussion.

“I don’t know if this is true, but if you added all the health care costs associated with diesel emissions, might it be cheaper to buy the electric bus rather than the diesel buses once you wrap in the health care expense?” he said.

Solid waste

Another item on the committee agenda is an “Act 148 deep dive,” which deals with solid waste and recycling. In 2020, household organic wastes will be required to be picked up by trash haulers.

“(Last session) we came up with a reasonable compromise that kept us moving forward, but I promised that we would come back to it early this session and figure out how this is working or not working, and why,” Bray said.

Not all of the haulers are thrilled about the new requirements. Some see it as an opportunity to do more business, but others don’t want to be forced to take on organic wastes.

Net metering

Another bill is expected that will address shortcomings of the net metering program for renewable energy projects. In traditional net metering, the owners of the power project sell the excess energy back to the utilities at the market price. The new community energy program sells it back to the utility at the wholesale price.

The eventual goal of this program would be to add 250 megawatts of renewable energy to Vermont’s grid. Bray said it would be ideal for schools, hospitals, and other larger institutions to participate in these projects.

Electric vehicles

Another bill Bray anticipates for the committee would boost access to electric vehicles. For example, some lawmakers have discussed removing the purchase/use tax for the first $30,000 spent on electric vehicles. Nevertheless, owners of such vehicles may still be required to pay something toward the gas tax, which helps fund repairs of roads and bridges.

Fuel mix

Another bill in the works would require Vermont fuel suppliers to report the percentage of biodiesel in their fuel mix, a requirement that might make it easier to identify a mix like B20 (20 percent biodiesel) at gas stations.

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

Images courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR and State of Vermont

9 thoughts on “Senate Energy Committee to take on carbon costs, electric vehicles, solid waste

  1. So, the plan is to take IPCC climate model simulation (not data, but we have to wonder which of the unreliable and invalid models they’d choose) to enter into the MIT “air-quality simulation of the impact of emissions on particles and gases in the atmosphere” (another computer game) in order to project fake death certificates. Why not?

  2. To make matters worse, Senator Bray is warning Vermonters that he wants to eliminate the sales tax on the first $30,000 cost of buying an EV. See Note at bottom.
    This amounts to an $1800 saving for the buyer, the state having less revenues, and bigger CHRONIC deficits.
    People like Bray have been giving away the store to RE folks for at least a decade.
    They have no idea how much they have given away.
    No rational central accounting exists. The numbers are all over the place. Nothing it properly vetted and exposed to the public. The state auditor, who loves RE, apparently ignores it.
    The magnitude of this is much bigger than the EB-5, or healthcare website fiascos.
    When recurring revenue gaps occur, legislators and bureaucrats pretend to have not a clue as to how that came about.
    A carbon tax, $300 to $500 million PER YEAR, would raise the ante by about a factor of 5.

    • Addition:

      NOTE: Regarding EVs, the embedded CO2, plus the CO2 due to 8 year driving are about the same as of a high mileage, NON-plug-in hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius.
      EVs with larger batteries, such as the Tesla Models S, have greater lifetime CO2 emissions than a Prius.
      EVs curing global warming is pure nonsense, especially in New England, on dirt roads, with snow and ice, going uphill, and during a cold day, which make an EV about as sluggish as cold maple syrup.

  3. It seems they’ve given up the shovels and use excavators and backhoe to dig their and our collective whole deeper.
    But their not as foolish as one would think. They won’t add wood burning as part f their carbon tax – even though it is one of the most dirty forms of energy production next to coal. However if they did they would lose their jobs, so they exempt it. They need to keep their jobs despite the excessive CO2 pollution from wood burning. So it seems their ideology is more important then Global Warming or they know it’s a hoax’s.
    They cleverly change the story from Global Warming (CO2 emissions) to alternative energy to hide their duplicity.

  4. While the Senate ponders ‘carbon costs’ they might want to ponder the costs of a mass exodus out of this socialist state when they put a carbon tax into law. To even suggest more taxes is a sure indication that those folks aren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. (Dim bulbs? Must be because their stupid wind and solar energy just isn’t enough….). More natural gas is what we need along with a few people in our legislature with enough brains and courage to question the veracity of climate change caused by humans.

  5. My God—STOP—This renewable insanity will ultimately bankrupt this state. Already in the economic dumpster and losing taxpayers in droves to more reasonable states—the Democrats can only come up with these as ” solutions”–totally irresponsible–just to FEEL GOOD.

  6. Before the legislature subsidizes electric vehicles they have to come to grips with how we will pay for our bridge and highway repair. Are we willing to move to an electric tax to replace the loss of the gas tax revenue as it declines?

    • John,

      Here is some info for your files regarding EVs.

      The all-knowing state, working together with self-styled transportation gurus, and RE activists, want to force people to drive electric vehicles.

      The same folks pushing for carbon taxes, also are pushing for plug-in vehicles, including light duty vehicles, LDVs, buses and trucks. Never mind the plug-in buses and trucks are still in their infancy. Vermont, with chronic, systemic budget deficits, must have money to burn on various follies.

      Market Penetration: Here are some facts on plug-ins (EVs and plug-in hybrids)

      The number of plug-ins on US roads has increased during the past 6 years.
      Plug-in sales are expected to be about 1.2% of all light duty vehicle, LDV, sales in 2017.

      In Vermont, the number of plug-ins increased from 88 in July 2012 to 1,113 (plug-in hybrids 865; EVs 248), in January 2016, 0.6% of all new vehicle registrations.

      In Vermont, the two vehicles shown in the table were 415 of all plug-in hybrids (48%).

      Most popular in Vermont Battery Plug-in hybrid mileage
      Toyota Prius Prime 8.8 kWh 25 miles as electric; 55 city/53 hwy/54 combined as hybrid
      Ford C-Max Energi 7.6 kWh 19 miles as electric; 42 city/38 hwy/40 combined as hybrid

      The 22 fast-charging and 88 slow-charging stations are predominantly clustered in and near three towns: Burlington, Montpelier, and Rutland.

      The RE activists in these towns would like to have:

      – Other Vermonters, carbon taxes, and Volkswagen “diesel-gate” settlement money pay for charging stations that would be located mostly in and near these towns
      – The charging electricity to be tax-free, low-cost, or for free; cost shifting and subsidies are the name of the game to make plug-ins look good.

      Almost half of US plug-in sales are in California, which has mostly nice weather.

      Year/Plug-in sales US California % US LDV sales
      2017 est. 200,000 17,400,000
      2016 159.333 75,250 47.2 17,464,800
      2015 114,248 62,217 54.4 17,396,300
      2014 123,347 59,485 48.2
      2013 96,602 42,545 44.0
      2012 55,392 20,093 36.2

      Plug-in Driving in NE: With snow and ice, and hills, and dirt roads, and mud season, 4-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles, such as SUVs, ¼-ton pick-ups, minivans, are a necessity in rural areas.

      Here is a list of plug-ins. Very few have 4-wheel/all-wheel drive and some of them cost 1.5 to 3 times as much as a Subaru Outback, which has all-wheel drive.

      Plug-in EV: Driving an EV in winter, with snow and ice, and hills, and dirt roads, and mud season, and at low temperature, say – 10 C, with the heat pumps heating the battery and the passenger cabin, would be very slow going, unless the EV had a large capacity, kWh, battery. The additional stress would cause increased battery aging and capacity loss.

      There are a EVs, such as the Tesla Model S, $80,000-$100,000, with 85 – 100 kWh batteries, which offer road-clearance adjustment and all-wheel drive as options, but they are out of reach of almost all Vermonters.

      Plug-in Hybrid: Driving a plug-in hybrid in winter, such as a Toyota Prius, 54 mpg, would be better, but it does not have 4-wheel/all-wheel drive, a major drawback.

      Battery Costs: Batteries likely will come down in cost, because of mass production, and in weight, due to clever packaging (which would decrease rolling resistance). However, the lithium-ion chemistry is pretty well maxed out, according to Musk, CEO of Tesla.

      Buying Plug-ins and Subsidies: People switching from E10 vehicles to plug-ins likely will not happen anytime soon. There are no compelling CO2 reasons, as shown by the above table, unless the government compels people to do so, which would be a folly, as there are so many, less expensive ways, to reduce CO2. Also, the $7500 federal tax credit may soon disappear.

      It would be best, if the government, law schools, et al., stopped interfering with the people’s energy decisions. Global warming will happen no matter what Vermont does.

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