Let’s regulate heating fuels

Dear Editor, 

The Vermont Sierra Club supports the passage of S.5, the Affordable Heat Act (AHA). We appreciate the hard work of representatives and senators to move this important policy forward. We believe that the governor must act now to send this proposal to the Public Utilities Commission and don’t delay any further in transitioning Vermonters away from dirty and expensive home heating fuels.  

We believe that regulating heating fuels, the second largest source of carbon emissions, is a critical step forward in reducing carbon emissions and meeting Vermont’s climate goals. We support prioritizing heat pumps and weatherization, as well as changes to reduce or eliminate the use of bioenergy fuels. We applaud the equity mandates in the law and will continue to advocate for an equitable clean energy transition as the program is implemented. 

Most importantly we support the AHA because:

Regulating heating fuels, the second largest source of carbon emissions, is a critical step forward in reducing carbon emissions and meeting our state climate goals. The AHA sets in place a performance-based standard that requires regulated entities to take actions to reduce emissions. Requiring real actions to earn credits means there must be concrete, delivered solutions to meet the mandates of the program and provide a pathway for the evolution of the fossil fuel industry in Vermont.

The AHA enshrines in law a high standard for lifecycle accounting of greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that investments in heat pumps and weatherization are prioritized. Studies have shown that prioritizing electrification leads to a faster and quicker reduction in emissions. The use of bioenergy fuels can delay emissions reductions and pull emphasis away from efficiency and electrification measures that have proven results. Through its implementation it is important to prioritize weatherization and electrification, two proven ways to lower emissions and increase the comfort and health of homes.

The AHA includes initiatives to address inequities in the energy system with the working group and mandates. History has shown that market-based programs result in disproportionate impacts to underserved communities. The AHA helps alleviate these barriers through the equity-working group and mandates that deliver measures to middle- and low-income communities. We strongly encourage the state to look at how to prioritize efficiency and electrification measures in these communities in the AHA as well, as studies show that switching a  home from propane heat to a cold-climate heat pump saves the average Vermont homeowner $900 per year. 

Now is our chance to enact and design a clean-heat standard to reduce emissions and save Vermonters money by switching out of costly and volatile fossil fuels. The Vermont Sierra Club supports S.5, the Affordable Heat Act and encourages its passage, and hopes to see the governor follow through on his pledge to meet the Paris Climate Accords.

Robb Kidd, Sierra Club

One comment on “Let’s regulate heating fuels

  1. Who is going to pay for all the changes I am on a fixed income what do l have to do move to another state all you guys are doing is driving real Vermont people out

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