To Heat Vermont Homes Affordably, the Unsustainable Status Quo Must Go

By Roxanne Vought, VBSR Executive Director

With nearly two-thirds of all energy currently used in Vermont to heat homes coming from fossil fuels, our thermal sector sits atop a list we might title “Unsustainable Status Quo.” At Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) we have always called for bold climate action. In this moment, there are no bold ways forward on climate that don’t directly – and immediately – address how we and our neighbors heat our homes.

Along with hundreds of members and partners, we are calling upon our elected officials to meet the urgency of the climate crisis with decisive legislation that gets to the heart of what needs to be done: lowering emissions and moving Vermont to a clean energy future. No single policy decision will get us there, but the Affordable Heat Act moves the needle in some very effective ways.

We know it’s a struggle for many in our region to afford to heat their homes in an increasingly extreme and unpredictable climate. Legislators have toiled admirably with the bill to be sure that it provides equitable financial relief for low-to-moderate income Vermonters. They’ve done this by creating mandates that are estimated to save working Vermonters an average of $7,500 per household and reduce the overall heating cost across homes in Vermont by a whopping $2 billion just from actions taken by 2030. These figures are hard to ignore in the face of often staggering fuel bills.

Thriving local economies determine the health of our broader business community. Our current reliance on fossil fuels to heat our homes depends on an energy source that is entirely imported, meaning every dollar generated from our collective fossil fuel purchases leaves our local economies and the state’s economy as a whole. VBSR supports keeping money local, which has the immense added benefit of accelerating a resilient clean energy future.

In the face of increasingly obvious climate impacts, regulations placed on heating fuel are an obvious part of the solution. As the number one pollution-reducing recommendation in Vermont’s Climate Action Plan, the Affordable Heat Act has been studied, analyzed, and debated for years. The time has come to put all that work into action.

This legislation brings economic relief to low-to-moderate income Vermonters and protects the land we’re all privileged to enjoy – and obligated to protect. We hope our elected officials, business leaders, and fellow citizens will join us in decisively turning away from an unsustainable status quo by supporting the Affordable Heat Act.

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