Senators get testy with witnesses who disagree on clean heat standard bill

By Rob Roper

Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, wants to have the clean heat standard bill, S.5, out of his committee by the middle of this month. That deadline is now just days away.

But instead of excitement and adulation surrounding the impending birth of what has been described as the premiere climate change bill of this legislative session, Bray and his committee are getting push back from some unexpected quarters. This has led to some testy exchanges between lawmakers and witnesses.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Steve Crowley of the Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club showed up to testify. One would expect the Sierra Club to be leading the charge on any climate change bill, but Crowley expressed reservations for two main reasons: the bill’s allowance of biofuels to be counted as renewable energy and the fact that the clean heat “credit” system — the main feature of the bill — is terribly regressive.

Crowley not only placed the “regressive” label on the bill, he gave a detailed explanation and description of exactly how the cost of clean heat credits will be disproportionately loaded onto the backs of those who can least afford it.

The way the “credit” system would work is fuel dealers who sell fossil-based heating fuels will have to purchase “credits” for every ton of carbon their products produce when burned to keep Vermonters warm. The cost of those credits will be necessarily passed along to the customer in the form of higher heating fuel costs. (The Scott administration estimates this will add at least an additional 70 cents per gallon to oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene.) The revenue from these credits will be used to subsidize some Vermonters’ ability to switch from fossil fuel heating systems to electricity based systems and/or to weatherize their homes.

state of Vermont

Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor

The system, as Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor, described to Crowley, is based on a “carrot and stick” approach. People who get off of fossil fuels are rewarded, and those who remain using fossil fuels get punished with higher prices.

Crowley explained that those who are most able to make the switch — able to pay the upfront costs for heat pumps, weatherization, etc. — tend to be wealthier. Those facing the most and biggest obstacles to adopting new technologies tend to be poorer and are likely to be stuck at the end of the line.

“As you have fewer and fewer gallons [of fossil heating fuels] sold — that’s what we’re supposed to do with the program — and you have more and more credits required, and they’re going to be more expensive, then I think you have a real crunch here,” Crowley said. “… This kind of program is inherently regressive. It puts quite a burden on low-income users. … So I look at the dynamic here with the decreasing base of sales and the increasing costs as an accident waiting to happen with this whole program.”

This caused Sen. MacDonald, D-Orange, to fly off the handle and basically accuse Crowley of sabotaging the passage of the bill by pointing out its flaws: “Two years from now we will be talking about the mythical bill that didn’t pass. … We’ve got some time to craft a bill that may or may not pass. Help us craft the bill. Please!”

Crowley was somewhat taken aback by the outburst and explained that his comments were intended to help. When MacDonald demanded specific legislative language, Crowley provided some — but it wasn’t a suggestion MacDonald or his colleagues wanted to hear, so they just sat sulking as the critique rolled on.

Later, after Crowley raised some serious problems with the “Default Delivery Agent (DDA)” concept as drafted in the bill (if fuel dealers cannot create credits by their own actions, they can pay the DDA to assume responsibility) it was Chairman Bray’s turn to seethe.

“I don’t want the notion of a problem floating out there that makes people fearful of what’s coming,” Bray said.

This has been the attitude of Bray and this committee throughout the process — don’t acknowledge the many problems in the bill. Don’t allow anyone to speak ill of the bill. Steve Crowley, who believes in the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act and of the Clean Heat Standard, made a good faith attempt to fix a bill he would like to see, with some changes, become law. His mistake was believing that these senators care what anyone who disagrees with them thinks, or what damage this bill could do to ordinary people should it become law.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

37 thoughts on “Senators get testy with witnesses who disagree on clean heat standard bill

  1. If the Vermont legislature wanted to take symbolic action against Global Warming that would not negatively impact our State, I would suggest they ban cryptocurrency. The making of crptocurrency requires a massive amount of energy. This unregulated currency is a favorite of criminals, scammers and ponzi-scheme artists who then often use their illgotten gains to try to buy influence in our political system.

  2. What you are seeing are zealot legislators that are more interested in passing laws that meet their own ideology and party’s agenda instead of passing common sense legislation that gets the job don’t without punishing middle and lower income Vermonters.

    McCormack and Bray know only the wealthier people can afford to just convert their heating, insulate their homes, replace old windows or purchase electric vehicles etc. They know rebates go to the wealthier Vermonters. They just don’t care.


    This article describes the efficiency of electric vehicles, EVs, and their charging loss, when charging at home and on-the-road, and the economics, when compared with efficient gasoline vehicles.

    In this article,

    Total cost of an EV, c/mile = Operating cost, c/mile + Owning cost, c/mile, i.e., amortizing the difference of the MSRPs of an EV versus an equivalent, efficient gasoline vehicle; no options, no destination charge, no sales tax, no subsidies.

    CO2 reduction of equivalent vehicles, on a lifetime, A-to-Z basis = CO2 emissions of an efficient gasoline vehicle, say 30 to 40 mpg – CO2 emissions of an EV


    Real-World Concerns About the Economics of EVs

    It may not be such a good idea to have a proliferation of EVs, because of:

    1) Their high initial capital costs; about 50% greater than equivalent gasoline vehicles.
    2) The widespread high-speed charging facilities required for charging “on the road”.
    3) The loss of valuable time when charging “on the road”.
    4) The high cost of charging/kWh, plus exorbitant penalties, when charging “on-the-road”.

    High-Mileage Hybrids a Much Better Alternative Than EVs

    The Toyota Prius, and Toyota Prius plug-in, which get up to 54 mpg, EPA combined, would:

    1) Have much less annual owning and operating costs than any EV, for at least the next ten years.
    2) Have minimal wait-times, as almost all such plug-ins would be charging at home
    3) Be less damaging to the environment, because their batteries would have very low capacity, kWh
    4) Impose much less of an additional burden on the electric grids.

    Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, save about the same amount of CO₂ as electric cars over their lifetime, plus:

    1) They are cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles, even without subsidies.
    2) They do not require EV chargers, do not induce range anxiety, can be refilled in minutes, instead of hours.
    3) Climate change does not care about where CO₂ comes from. Gasoline cars are only about 7% of global CO2 emissions. Replacing them with electric cars would only help just a little, on an A to Z, lifetime basis.

    “Electrify Everything”; an easily uttered slogan

    It would require:

    – Additional power plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, bio
    – Additional grid augmentation/expansion to connect wind and solar systems, and to carry the loads for EVs and heat pumps
    – Additional battery systems to store midday solar output surges for later use, i.e., DUCK-curve management.
    – Additional command/control-orchestrating (turning off/on appliances, heat pumps, EVs, etc.) by utilities to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:

    1) Charging times of EVs and operating times of heat pumps
    2) Operating times of major appliances
    3) Demands of commercial/industrial businesses


    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.

  5. These neo-progressive socialists want everyone to kneel at the altar of the church of their climate god and will do their best to have opponents to their ideology cancelled. They will not be happy until we revert to the Stone Age again. It’s as simple as that.

    • Once again indeed. As Vermont is well into it’s third decade of ideological demagogues legislating on behalf of their corporate and lobbyist masters, outbursts such as macdonald bray and mccormick have in committee should be no surprise to anyone.
      These alleged legislators are NOT legislating, they are decreeing policy without regard to consequence. Did we not live thru the same during shumlin’s great single payer demands?
      Are the majority of Vermont’s active voters so imbued with socialism and climate evangelism that they willingly accept this level of gaslighting, lies and corruption?
      Plain and simple: The Senate Natural Resources Committee is composed of D/P legislators- exclusively- that want legislation that punishes ALL Vermont residents, business and our economy that actual cost, in dollars and lives- matters not. And that they needn’t know the actual regulations that will be needed to enforce their diktat. Just that they get their diktat.

  6. Panic under the Golden Dome! Facts do matter afterall. They know what is going on in Europe. The Germans two-stepping around the Davos crowd speaks volumes. Germany is the industrial engine that keeps Europe running. The West is being trapped by Russia, China, and the Arab nations into a hole, a big cratering hole. Global inititives only work when a majority of nations sign on – currently, many are bailing out in favor of economic stability. Go figure! The green new deal’s only fuel is gasbags clinging onto it at this point. The forthcoming economic climate change is the ultimate game changer. No matter what they say, they can’t outrun it or hold it off in any form or fashion. Some say Switzerland is in the cross-hairs…if that turns out to be true…the game is indeed over.

    • Melissa,

      The EU bureaucrats trapped themselves, by refusing to allow EU members signing long-term nat gas delivery contracts, as had been the rule for at least 30 years.

      The idiots directed EU members to buy on the SPOT market, but there was not enough gas on the spot market, so prices went through the roof.

      Then, the idiots, blamed it on Russia, which sells gas only under long term contracts, as is the rule all over the world.

      The more you know about markets, the more you learn to ignore the BS.

      Russia needs China’s production know-how and China needs Russia’s resources.
      Is it so surprising, they formed an alliance?
      Oh, they just happen to be nuclear powers
      The US does not like that alliance, wants to weaken Russia, by using Ukraine as a proxy, “for as long as it takes”

      CO2, at 1.75 W/m2 driving force, is a pigmy, compared to the 120-plus W/m2 driving force of clouds and water vapor.

      If CO2 were doubled, which would use up the world’s fossil fuels, and would cause major forest growth (which is highly beneficial), there would be only a very minor increase in world temperature, because of absorption frequency limitations of CO2, according to Modern Physics.

      Reducing pigmy CO2 to save the planet is bull manure to Physicists

  7. Great that the truth is stressing bray, mcdonald and the rest of the bankrupt us for a hoax folks out. I sincerely hope it gives them less mileage on their tickers and they expend into worm food. It’s exactly what they deserve for the pain they wish to invoke on the citizens for their agenda which accomplishes nothing. If they wouldn’t have set a deadline and actually worked with knowledgeable people they might have come to a reasonable solution like planting more trees and Nuke and water power.

  8. My, my, testy are we? It’s really simple we are stupid and to be scorned by the intelligentsia. Remember they didn’t elect themselves!

  9. Mcdonald in asking for someone to help them craft a bill is a very old trick. You get a person, who opposes something, to be on a committee. After it is passed over whatever objection they happen to have, they can always say that we had this person on the committee and it passed. This makes it OK. I was taught this in negotiation school for labor management relations. What BS!

  10. If the morons pass this, I will just get more wood from the National Forest, coal from NY, and what little oil I use for hot water in summer from Ma.

  11. “There is no subjection so perfect as that which keeps the appearance of freedom ” Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This quote perfectly described the tyranny endured by Vermonters’ under the vise grip of the democratic/progressive legislature .

          • Antifa, etc., are non-violent outfits?
            Schumer and Pelosi taking a knee is not “in your face”?
            Hairdo Pelosi wearing no mask at the “closed” beauty parlor, is not a hypocrite?
            Hunter Biden laptop is a Russian plant, per 41 intelligence chiefs?
            Unvetted, unskilled, unexperienced, undocumented people, from God knows where, illegally walking across the open border, by the millions each year, is not dysfunctional and not treasonous?

            The level of culture-cancelling weirdness being perpetrated by a small group of insiders, supported by the mass-media, onto the US people, is off the charts

          • Hence, cue the alien invasion! UFO’s reported all over the place. Word has it the Chinese sent the balloon to add to our clown show. As soon as they start losing the narrative…..chaos and psyops ramp up 100%

          • Joy,
            Perhaps it is worth consdiering that Phil Scott has consistently vetoed these impractical Climate change laws. Republican Governor Scott was elected in 2016 with 53% of the vote, 2018 with 55.2%, 2020 with 68.5% and 2022 with 69.3%.

            Scott has vetoed more legislation than any other governor in Vermont’s history, He was the only one willing to take a stand and point out the inadequacy of the pension bill last year and has consistently opposed raising more taxes. It might if we want to be successful take a deeper look at what Scott is doing right to get elected.

  12. I’m sure that the people who are making these heat pumps, home insulation, and solar panels are lobbying for the passage of s.5 with a bit of “incentive” back to those who can make it happen. Same game with different players.


      This article should be read by the Vermont Environment and Energy Committee and all Vermont legislators, so they understand the short-comings of HPs at low temperatures, when operated in houses, other than highly sealed and highly insulated houses.

      Air source HPs will not economically displace anywhere near 100% of fossil Btu in existing Vermont buildings, weatherized or not.

      The Vermont clean heating standard, CHS, modified or not, is deeply flawed. It is putting the horse behind the cart, because they are blinded by generous subsidies for HPs.

      Average Vermont House

      Based on my many years of energy systems analysis experience, I claim, the average Vermont house is totally unsuitable for HPs.

      It is down-right criminal for New England governments to cajole/browbeat/scare/force people to install HPs in such houses

      Summary of CADMUS Report

      – The annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200/y, but the annual maintenance, and annual amortizing costs (at 5.5%/y for 15 years) would turn that gain into a loss of at least $500/y.

      – 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. The small percentage of displaced fossil fuel heat indicates HPs would not be effective CO2 reducers in the cold climate of Vermont, if used in average VT houses.

      – Owners started to turn off their HPs at about 28F to 30F, because their past experience showed significant increases in electricity bills, if they had not turned them off.

      – Very few owners were using their HPs at 10F and below, as shown by the decreasing kWh consumption totals on figure 14 of URL.
      – At those temperatures, the hourly cost of operating HPs exceeded the hourly cost of using a traditional heating system.
      – This statement is true for average Vermont houses, which comprise about 90% of the Vermont housing stock.

      – 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 space heat 1,880 kWh
      2) Standby mode 76 kWh, or 100 x 76/2085 = 3.6%. The HP cycles to “heat on” to “heat off”, but the fan keeps running
      3) Defrost mode 129 kWh, or 100 x 129/2085 = 6.2%. Defrost starts at about 37F and ends at about 10F.

      The HP overhead was (2085 – 205)/1880 = 10.9%, i.e., 10.9% more electricity was fed to the HP than was converted to space heat.

      – Turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500 (2017 pricing); almost all surveyed houses had just one HP, which would be far from sufficient to heat an entire house. See URLs.

      CADMUS Survey of Vermont Air Source HPs

      CADMUS, an energy consultant hired by the Vermont Department of Public Service in 2017, performed a survey of 77 HPs at 65 sites, in Vermont. See URL of CADMUS report

      VT-DPS was advised by the Vermont Legislature to obtain an “independent” study, because many people with HPs had complained, they did not get anywhere near the annual energy cost savings stated on websites, etc., of GMP, BED, VPIRG, VT-DPS, EAN, EFFICIENCY VERMONT, etc.,

      NOTE: The CADMUS report was written in such a confusing way, the average Vermonter, including almost all legislators, would not be informed by it, and would be more confused by it, unless they had a mechanical engineering degree, with applicable experience.
      I do have the degree and experience, so I could analyze it.

      HP Operating Data from Survey

      Figure 14 in the CADMUS report shows, the measured total electricity consumption, kWh, of all HPs was 8 kWh at 66F, then increases to a maximum of 97 kWh at 28F, then decreases to about 5 kWh at -12F. That kWh includes about

      Whereas the building heating load was increasing, because it was getting colder, the measured electricity to the HPs was decreasing!!

      That decrease could only happen, if Vermonters turned off their HPs, to save on electricity costs.
      Instead, they used their less-costly-to-operate traditional heating systems, such as oil, gas, propane and wood stoves.

      Deceptions by HP Proponents

      Vermonters operate their HPs mostly above 28F, which yields an average coefficient of performance, COP, of about 3.0. See figure 14

      HP proponents brag Vermonters get about 3.0 x 3412 = 10,200 Btu/kWh of electricity.
      However, proponents do not mention, if Vermonters had operated their HPs below 28F, the COP would become less and less
      Vermonters would get only 2.0 x 3412 = 6,824 Btu/kWh of electricity at 10F, or 1.6 x 3412 = 5,460 Btu/kWh at 0F

      The lower COPs occur while the building heating load is increasing, i.e., it is very expensive to operate an HP at low temperatures.

      Computer Program to Determine Heating Consumption

      CADMUS used a decades-old, standard, HVAC computer program that takes the hourly temperature history of one heating season (or averages, say 5 years of heating seasons).
      The temperature history is obtained from US weather data.

      The computer program allocates the frequency and duration of temperatures to two-degree temperature intervals, also called “bins”.
      See URL of CADMUS report; horizontal axis of figure 14

      The space heat to a site is calculated for each two-degree bin, say 32 F – 34 F; 34 F – 36 F; 36 F – 38 F, etc.
      The total space heat to a site is obtained by adding the space heats for all two-degree bins.

      The computer program calculated the following values, as stated in the CADMUS report:

      – Space heat to a site was 92 million Btu, of which 25.35 million from HPs (27.6%), and 66.65 million from other fuels (72.4%)
      – Space heat to all sites was 65 sites x 92 million Btu/site = 5,980 million Btu. See CADMUS URL, page 22
      – Space heat from HPs was 77 HPs x 21.4 million Btu/HP = 1,648 million Btu. See CADMUS URL, page 21
      – Traditional systems provided 5980 – 1648 = 4,332 million Btu, or 4332/5980 = 72.4% of the total space heat.
      – HPs provided only 100 – 72.4 = 27.6% of the total space heat for an average Vermont house. See table
      – Heating season average COP = 21400000 Btu/HP x 1/2085 kWh x 1 kWh/3412 Btu = 3.0

      Energy Cost Savings

      The energy cost savings averaged about $200/y, instead of the $1,200/y to $1,800/y grabbed out of the air by GMP, VT-DPS, VPIRG, etc.

      After the CADMUS report, those overblown estimates disappeared from their websites.

      I have three Mitsubishi HPs, with 6 heads ($24,000 – $2,400 subsidy from GMP) in my well-insulated/sealed house.
      I displace only 35% of my propane Btus, based on MEASURED consumption data during 3 years.
      I do not use my HPs below 15F, because they cost more PER HOUR than my efficient propane furnace.
      I save about $200/y in energy costs.
      If I amortize the cost of the HPs over 15 years, I lose about $2,000/y

      NOTE: Due to recent increases of propane prices, I will operate my HPs down to about 10F to 15F (depending on wind conditions and passive solar gain), which means, I will:

      1) Displace a little more than 35% of fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus,
      2) Have a greater CO2 reduction.
      3) Have a MUCH greater monthly electric bill.

      Coddling RE Businesses

      Heavily subsidized businesses selling/installing/servicing HPs, etc., will be collecting hundreds of $millions each year over the decades, while already-struggling, over-regulated, over-taxed Vermonters will be further screwed out of a decent standard of living.

      HP boosters Sens. Bray, McDonald, etc., know about those dreadful HP results in Vermont, and yet they continue shilling for HPs.

      All these expensive Vermont GWSA efforts will be having ZERO IMPACT ON GLOBAL WARMING.

    • This is all about back room promises that have to kept to get “campaign contributions” to get re-elected, and employ relatives and friends.
      The system has to be greased. Squeaks might draw attention

  13. Our progressive run legislature and school boards and administrators use guerilla tactics to bully and coerce opposition. Business as usual in Vermont.

    • Doesn’t have to be this way. Repubs need to learn how to get their positions out there, better street protesters, better public educators. Bigger voices.

      • Republicans need to get bipartisan control over the registered voter list

        run it against standard databases, to wring out the fraud

        outlaw universal mail out of ballots

        outlaw ballot harvesting,

        require a recent photo ID and proof of citizen ship, before voting

        Those are the minimum requirements of all countries in Europe; I lived there for 21 years.

    • I have no clue what their guerilla tactics and coercive opposition looks like. Please explain.

      Can’t fight it if you don’t know what it looks it.

    • Now that social media as been exposed for what it is – A government propaganda organ used to affect elections by squashing opposing views, things are starting to unravel.

      Chinks are appearing in narrative, the kimono is opening and all the obscene rot is on display.

      There were some pretty sweaty faces in the initial Congressional hearings this week. Doesn’t look like it will take as long as the next election to begin putting the miscreants behind bars.

      The Poobahs in the VT Legislature better start taking notice, because they are next in line…

  14. The image of two five-year old boys, trying to pound a round stick into a square hole come to mind?
    Are macdonald, bray and the rest of the committee so obsessed with virtue signaling that they cannot see anything else? It appears so. I suspect that these two petulant senators are so beholden to their ideology and donors that they no longer see beyond the emotion of passing something that pleases their masters, the electorate and citizen be damned.
    So complete has indoctrination of climate evangelism into Vermont’s politics and minds of it’s residents that a majority of them will line up and gratefully pay their carbon tax, revering those that forced economic carnage upon them.
    When the statue of macdonald is created for the statehouse lawn, I do hope the images of him in Mr. Roper’s video serve as the artists guide.

    • 5 year olds have an excuse, 60 year olds look very silly doing it.
      In fact, straight jackets would be needed

  15. Business as usual at the Statehouse. For generations legislation has stolen from the middle class to enrich the wealthy with tax credit and incentive schemes, and kept the poor quiet with just enough programs for them to subsist.

    Whenever will our Statehouse cease to dictate laws that are repugnant to the Constitution. Go in, do the business you’re Constitutionally obligated to do, and get out. Stop lining the pockets of every Tom, Dick, and Harry that helped pave your way to the Statehouse. Power and Freedom for the People.

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