The clean heat standard (which many have called a carbon tax) was undoubtedly the most controversial law passed during the 2023 legislative session. While its aim is a worthwhile reduction in carbon emissions from home heating, the mechanism employed raises the cost of heating fuels for households still using carbon-based fuels.
The bill creating a carbon-pricing scheme, known as the Clean Heat Standard (CHS), reached the House floor on Thursday. Representative Sibilia presented the bill on behalf of the Environment & Energy Committee.
She described the bill as having the Public Utility Commission (PUC) develop the marketplace and rules for implementing the CHS. They will provide the 2025 legislature and Governor with the rules to implement the CHS. That is “all we are voting on today,” she claimed. She continued that “a yes vote today will not increase the cost of Vermonter’s fuel or protect the cost. We are not voting on those things today. We are voting on those things in 2025.”Read more
- In 2016, Governor Scott joined other states in committing Vermont to meeting goals of the Paris Climate Accords.
- In 2020, Vermont passed Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The GWSA sets the mandates for greenhouse gas reductions, established the Climate Council to come up with the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The Clean Heat Standard (CHS) is the primary thermal sector solution for the CAP.
Sibilia claimed that Vermonters wanted them to act on climate, citing a poll that says 76% support climate action.Read more
The Committee began marking up S.5 on Wednesday. Chairwoman Sheldon asked if cooking was included in the definition of thermal sector and therefore covered under the bill. Legislative Counsel confirmed that it was included and transitioning from gas to thermal induction stoves in restaurants qualifies for credits.Read more
The House Environment & Committee returned on Friday morning to hear from TJ Poor (Director of Planning, Department of Public Service). He was following up on a question from his last time in the Committee regarding the Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). The CEP actually calls for a full evaluation of the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) in terms of cost, societal impact, and equity. This didn’t happen in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) process due to the tight timelines.Read more
Thursday morning the House Environment & Energy Committee returned to testimony on S.5. Neale Lunderville (President & CEO, Vermont Gas Systems) was first to speak. Chairwoman Sheldon gave an introduction Lunderville’s terms as Transportation Secretary, Secretary of Administration (under Douglas), and General Manager of the Burlington Electric Department.Read more
The House Environment & Energy Committee picked up S.5 again on Wednesday with testimony from Matt Cota (Lobbyist, Vermont Fuel Dealers), who shared that the “first misconception” being repeated is that this bill only affects large companies. Big companies are not the ones the bill obligates to buy credits, according to Cota. It is not size, but rather who owns title to the fuel when it crosses state lines that determines who is required to buy the credit; that could be a large company or a tiny company, a wholesaler or a dealer. Small dealers who are geographically located near borders are going to be disproportionately tagged as obligated parties.Read more