To the editor: Windham senators asked to vote ‘no’ on Affordable Heat Act

An open letter to Sen. Wendy Harrison and Nader Hashim, Democrats representing the Windham District:

You will shortly be voting on the so-called “Affordable Heat Act,” (S.5) formerly the “Clean Heat Act.”

The intent of the legislation is to accomplish a statewide switch from heating systems that run on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, propane and kerosene, to energy sources like electricity that have lower carbon emissions.  A credit system would reward fuel dealers and consumers for changing over from fossil fuels.  Those who don’t make the switch would bear the higher costs of conventional fuels.

Remarkably, Vermont state officials have consistently raised serious questions about the affordability of the switch to lower carbon emitting heat sources as mandated by the act:

  • Gov. Phil Scott emphasized that “the costs and impacts are unknown.”
  • June Tierney, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, said, “I don’t think Vermonters understand the Mack truck that’s coming at them … how this is going to impact their lives and what it’s going to cost.”
  • The Vermont Joint Fiscal Office reported that because the change from fossil fuels to electricity in the heating sector would be too expensive for many Vermonters they would need support.  “The source of that support will need to be determined.”  Who knows where the money would come from?
  • Julie Moore, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, testified that the Affordable Heat Act would cost Vermonters $1.2 billion in upfront costs of switching to cleaner heat systems, and would add 70 cents per gallon to the price of fuel.  Others have concluded that the increase in the price of fuel would be much greater.

Substantially higher fuel costs will leave many Vermonters at risk, a risk that is unacceptable in a cold climate.

That’s a lot of caution from sources whose job and duty it is to investigate the implications of proposed legislation.  I urge you, Sens. Harrison and Hashim, to heed these cautions and vote “no” on S.5, the Affordable Heat Act.


Anna Vesely Pilette

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  1. Phil Scott was elected overwhelmingly in the last election. Half of the Democrats voted for him. He is respected and trusted. Vermont has taken incremental steps to address emissions for 20 years beginning with subsidies for solar panels. When the Governor urges caution as he did on the GWSA and Clean Heat Standard he is weighing the cost to Vermonters against the global benefits, which are too small to be measured. Its shameful that fuel dealers have to beg for their survival so they can keep us from freezing.

  2. Tim Roper says:

    So… trust Republican, Phil Scott’s appointees and apologists for the heating fuel companies because they bring an unbiased point of view to the discussion? Gotcha.