Some Climate Council members distancing themselves from clean heat standard

By Rob Roper

The March 13 meeting of the Vermont Climate Council was focused primarily on issues of process and purpose. The group is struggling to understand and define what its role is going forward, and to an extent, what its role has been up to this point. For example, some members after serving for over two years on the Council even questioned if they are acting in a policy making capacity or an advisory capacity.

Vermont Climate Council Meeting, March 13, 2023

Since passing their Climate Action Plan in December 2021, nearly a year and a half ago, the Council has had two main policy tasks: figure out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector following the collapse of the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative, and resolve their own internal debate about how biomass fuels — especially for electricity generation — should be categorized under law, either as something to be encouraged or eliminated.

Neither of these things has made much progress within the Council. The Transportation Task Group hasn’t come up with any concrete ideas, and the Biomass Task Group’s formal recommendation to phase out the use of biomass fuels and shut down the McNeil and Ryegate power plants has been mired in bureaucratic slow-walking for six months, in which Council leadership has repeatedly put off reviewing the report and voting on whether or not to adopt it. This, what is increasingly being perceived by anti-biomass advocates as active suppression of the report, led to questions about how decisions are made by the Council.

Both citizens in the public comment portion of the meeting and counselors themselves questioned how the decision-making processes actually worked or should work. David Deen, the newest appointee to the Council and a former representative, appeared exasperated about the loose approach to debate (Robert’s Rules do not apply), a general disrespect for decorum, and failure to have a defined system for how policies are introduced, deliberated, motioned and voted upon.


Another point of contention was over who speaks for the Council to the Legislature and how that has been decided. Testimony regarding the Clean Heat Standard, for example, was presented to the Legislature by council members Jared Duval and Bill Cowart, but nobody seemed to know how these spokespeople were chosen — or if they ever were.

Cowart and Duval are the lead architects and advocates for the Clean Heat Standard portion of the Climate Action Plan, which manifested itself in the legislature as S.5. Some councilors were wondering why these two were speaking for the whole Council on the controversial de facto carbon tax on home heating fuels, when not all of them supported the proposal.

Duval defended himself.

“We all passed a Climate Action Plan that has specific recommendations around policies and recommended actions. And I think any counselor who is invited to testify by the legislature can testify as their capacity as a counselor from their own perspective, or on behalf of the Council when speaking directly to something we have all agreed on,” Duval said. “It seems like there’s some confusion about where a Clean Heat Standard came from. Page 98 of the Climate Action Plan that we adopted by a vote of 19-4 says as strategy number one in terms of reducing fossil fuel use in the thermal sector is to implement a Clean Heat Standard. … It is enshrined in our Climate Action Plan.”

Abbie Corse, a council member and farmer sitting on the Agriculture and Ecosystems subcommittee, fired back.

“As a counselor I feel I need to say that because of the timeline under which we were operating, it wasn’t possible as a counselor to fully understand the ramifications of the policies that were being put forward. Then when asked to put input in, it was a fight to get there,” she said. “Additionally, if I had, for example, realized that the number one policy that we were going to put forward as a council — I voted yes to the Climate Action Plan because I believed in the work that had been done in my subcommittee. I did not vote yes for the things I did not have the ability to do a deep dive in. And I think there is some confusion in the public regarding that. … I will never go into the public and say that as a climate councilor I was behind the Clean Heat Standard, because I’m not.”

Corse’s comments raised further questions about the disparity of burden placed on Council members. Some, such as professional activists like Duval (Energy Action Network) and Johanna Miller (Vermont Natural Resources Committee), are essentially being paid by their employers to do this work full time. Others, such as Corse, who is a farmer, and those who have jobs unrelated to policy making, are making a time and financial sacrifice to do this work, yet their voices are being shut down.

The debate raises questions for the public about what we are getting for the multi-million taxpayer funded annual budget for this Council. If the Council is operationally dysfunctional, if the recommendations it is formally putting out are not reflective of the body’s overall research and consensus, and if its members aren’t even aware of their own mission, let alone the ramifications of the policies they are voting on, how can we justify spending an ever-increasing amount of money to maintain it?

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.

12 thoughts on “Some Climate Council members distancing themselves from clean heat standard

  1. The people who voted for the Climate Action Plan likely never analyzed, designed or operated any energy system. They got themselves on the panel because of political agendas.

    By now, all of them know, Vermont is just a pinprick in the world picture.

    It is gross malfeasance to force Already-struggling Vermonters into decisions that are harmful for their physical and financial well being.

    Duval is on the panel, because he runs Energy Action Network, an umbrella organization with many highly subsidized members that put in energy systems

    EAN performs the kind of reports that give cover and talking points to legislators.

    I have dissected those reports and found them to make grossly optimistic assumptions that overstate CO2 reductions of EVs and Heat Pumps, grossly understate A-to-Z capital costs to implement them.

    I installed 3 heat pumps with 6 heads, not because I needed them, but to prove, with 3 years of operating data, their miserable economics in almost all houses in Vermont, etc.

    See my 2 comments in this string

    I could go on to other aspects

  2. Sounds like the Cowart and Duval Clown Show took it’s script from the IPCC.

    Understand that the IPCC has real climate scientists research, review and write the scientific articles for their Assessment Reports (published every 5-8 years). They then give this massive technical report to a bunch of bureaucrats with backgrounds in things like railroad management or post office administration.

    This group “summarizes” the technical AR report into an Executive Summary which the big boys can understand. Along the way, many valid findings and viewpoints are dismissed because they don’t meet the agenda. The MSM laps up the Non-Science of the Executive Summary as gospel and that’s what the public hears…

    The big boys don’t know any better, so we get grifters like Gore and Greta spouting absolute alarmist nonsense which sounds real, given what appears in the Executive Summary.

    Joseph Goebbels would be so proud of the artful lying which gets repeated ad nauseam until it becomes reality.

  3. As they should. I wouldn’t want blood on my hands. This will soon be published in at least one of the local papers. (Some poor souls I’ve spoken with still think Phil Scott can veto S.5, or that he already has.)

    “When the Coltsfoot Bloomed”

    If the so-called “Affordable Heat Act” (S.5) is signed into law, people will die, just as they died last winter in heat-rationed Europe. This bill has not been canceled; it has simply been put on hold while its Democrat and Progressive perpetrators commission studies that will deliver the results they want. Anyone who does not wish to see their fuel costs double should contact their elected officials and let them know how they feel about this politically motivated, possibly malicious piece of legislation. It’s important to remember that with a Democratic supermajority in the state legislature, Governor Scott no longer has the votes he needs to simply veto S.5.

    By Ellin Anderson

    When the coltsfoot was in bloom
    On sunny banks, and on the hill
    Where Nature wove on April’s loom,
    They sat in peace, as white and still
    And stiff as any Dresden doll —
    A little family in their car —
    They will not answer when you call,
    However close you are.

    They rested there, through every storm —
    The bleak black night, the silver day —
    Had they been trying to get warm,
    Or just to get away?
    In unrelenting northern cold,
    With dead blue lips, a mother’s kiss
    Is pressed on Baby’s hair of gold —
    But nothing good, not even bliss
    As good as gold can stay.

    Or stay the hand of cruel intent
    And power open to misuse.
    Would pity’s warming heart relent,
    Or would the cold claw of abuse
    Unfold there on the sunny bank
    Where the unsullied violet curled:
    A little house, a propane tank
    Crumpled, to save the world.

    They tap upon the window — near
    The marble eye, the porcelain ear
    To ask forgiveness — now, they come,
    But find the father deaf and dumb,
    The child who only asked a crumb —
    The mother and her crystal tear —
    “Forgive us” — mocking or sincere,
    A prayer that only God will hear.

  4. What is in their stock portfolio? The quickest way to find out their motivation and dedication to the cause is to know who is greasing their palms. A foreign government utility is allowed to control critical infrastructure in the United States? How can that be allowed?

    February 2023 Hydro-Quebec: The acquisition of Great River Hydro, LLC, owner of 13 hydroelectric power stations in New England, by HQI US Holding LLC, a 100% subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, from an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC was concluded after obtaining all required regulatory approvals, including from the Vermont Public Utility Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Great River Hydro’s portfolio of hydroelectric plants, located on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers in the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, is the largest conventional hydropower fleet in New England, where ambitious decarbonization and electrification objectives have been set and where the amount of electricity generated from variable renewable energy sources is poised to increase sharply.

  5. VT-DPS CADMUS Survey of Vermont Heat Pumps

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

    The report and VT-DPS found the average energy cost savings regarding HPs was about $200/HP, as proven by the CADMUS survey report of operating data of 77 HPs at 65 sites. See URL

    Those meager energy savings would be more than offset by the annual amortizing cost of $4,500/HP at 6%/y for 15 years, plus any annual maintenance costs, and parts and labor costs. HPs are significant money losers for Vermonters. See URLs

    The main result of Vermont’s HP saga has been:

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

    Weatherizing Vermont’s Energy-Hog Houses

    Please stop using the word “weatherizing”, which usually costs about $10,000/house.

    Such a measure is not anywhere near sufficient for HPs to displace 100% of fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus; it is a mere band-aid;
    akin to whistling past the graveyard.
    For 100% displacement, 2 to 3 HPs, with multiple heads, are required, PLUS a wood/propane/fuel oil stove on colder days.

    A house would have to be highly sealed, highly insulated, R40 walls, R60 ceiling, R20 basement, R7 windows, R10 doors, with exhaust heat recovery system, etc., to have HPs economically displace 100% of fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus.
    Such houses do exist in Vermont, but are less than 2 to 3% of the entire housing stock.

    Vermont has a government-subsidized weatherizing program, that aims to decrease the energy consumption for heating, cooling and electricity of average Vermont houses. The average weatherizing cost is about $10,000/house.

    However, owners who have weatherized should not think their house has become suitable for HPs to displace 100% of fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus. Nothing could further from the truth!

    I have a well-sealed, well-insulated house, oriented/designed for passive solar gain, i.e., it is already weatherized, but my 3 HPs, with 6 heads, economically displace only 35% of my fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus, based on 3 years of measured operating data.

    One HP with one head, in an average Vermont house, displaces only 27.6% of the fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus, as confirmed by the CADMUS survey report.

    All of the above is well known by energy engineers at VT-DPS, and EAN, and VEIC, and Efficiency-Vermont, etc.
    Those engineers likely know of some very energy-efficient Vermont houses, with HPs that displace 100% of fossil fuel Btus with electricity Btus, year-after-year.

    HPs are Uneconomical at Low Temperatures

    HPs are very uneconomical at low temperatures, which is exactly the condition when your house requires the most space heat. With HP system losses, aka overhead of about 10%, it would be almost like heating your house with electric heat; a very expensive hardship on cold days.

    If a house had a space heat requirement of 11,500 Btu/h at 47F, the propane cost would be about 40 c/h, but the HP electricity cost would be about 16 c/h, for a saving of about 24 c/h

    If a house had a space heat requirement of 35,000 Btu/h at 0F, the propane cost would be about 121 c/h, but the HP electricity cost would be about 141 c/h, for a loss of about 20 c/h


    My Experience with HPs in my Well-Insulated, Well-Sealed House

    I installed three HPs 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 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. The 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. One or two heads 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, as needed, 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 warm air coming from the wall-mounted unit, but it was much less warm, than it would be at, say 15F outdoor.
    That warm 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 an advertising gimmick, and 2) HPs are grossly uneconomic:

    I operate my HPs down to about 15F in my well-sealed, well-insulated house, depending on wind and sun conditions
    This compares with down to about 28F in average Vermont houses, which are energy hogs, by modern standards, as determined by the CADMUS survey at 65 siters with 1 or 2 HPs

    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.

  7. It’s time for a legislator to introduce a bill to disband the climate council and put climate policy and decision making back where it belongs, in the legislature. It should be our elected officials who answer directly to us to make policy and decisions that affect us all, not some kangaroo committee like the Climate Council.

  8. I hear with wood, will continue to heat with wood. My refrigerator runs on propane, I will be going to New Hampshire to fill my propane tanks. I will do everything I can to stick it to this socialist state. They squander our taxpayer money on worthless homeless in hotels and in a lot of other ways. This is not the state it once was thanks to the crazy liberals.

  9. One might speculate that dysfunction was built into the system.
    For the purpose of extracting tax dollars by way of settlement fees once litigation is allowed in 2025.
    One might speculate the authors of the GWSA, such as the CLF, VPIRG, VNRC designed the system for that express goal, as these same groups will be the beneficiaries of the litigation process.
    Climate Council meetings seem a contest of whom can be most obnoxious and vociferous of their ideological position. We used to call this behavior something else…

    In 2050- exactly the same as today- Earths atmosphere will be:
    78% Nitrogen
    21% Oxygen
    0.9% Argon
    0.1% Everything else. That includes 0.04% CO2.
    Tell me again how this is about climate?

  10. Meanwhile, China and Russia agree to build new pipeline from Russia! These two countries are focused (primarily China) on building future global economic dominance powered primarily by low cost, hydro-carbon energy, as it should be.
    The US “carbon” emissions are now being dwarfed by a growing China, India, Russia, and the rising African continent. We’re committing economic suicide to impact 15% or less of the world’s emissions.
    Not that reducing CO2 (or CH4) emissions is of concern anyways since CO2 is not the driver of Earth’s warming. CO2’s “greenhouse gas” warming effects were 98% played out over a couple hundred years ago. CO2 is now just a trailing indicator of a warming planet, period.

    • Russia and China WILL dominate unless we change course on the Ukraine war and the economic destructive administration we currently have. Iran and even Saudi Arabia are looking to move from the dollar to the Rubble as their monetary standard. If that happens the dollar is toast. While we wallow in 7-10% inflation Russia is barely at 2. Their economy is smoking while ours is non existent. All the while the potato head assures us with lie after lie we’re in good shape.

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