Climate Dispatch: An Affordable Heat Act for Vermont with Senator Bray

The 2023 legislative session, and the start of a new biennium, has officially commenced! In our inaugural weekly video “Climate Dispatch” VNRC’s Johanna Miller and VCV’s Lauren Hierl are joined by Senator Chris Bray, Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, to share an exciting update on the introduction of S.5, the Affordable Heat Act.

Today’s Episode

We are hopeful this is a big year for climate progress! Long-standing climate champs are joined by an unprecedented new cohort of legislators – and will be sitting on some new committees. Check out the big committee changes and see where your Representative and Senators sit. Check out the House here and the Senate here

Excitingly, S.5 is being taken up first by the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and will be a new and improved version of last year’s Clean Heat Standard bill. As Vermont continues to lack a regulatory lever to address greenhouse gas emissions in the thermal heating sector, hear firsthand from Senator Bray about the work underway to ensure the bill is crafted to effectively meet concerns previously raised about the Clean Heat Standard. Importantly, the Affordable Heat Act will:

  1. Enhance equity, building in more provisions to ensure that low- and moderate-income Vermonters receive the majority of the benefits from our clean energy transition, 
  2. Ensure greater climate accountability, building in clear and accurate accounting of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of our energy sources, and, 
  3. Ratchet down combustion over time, setting the stage to rely less on biofuels and renewable natural gas while simultaneously prioritizing and incentivizing greater efficiency, electrification and heat pumps. 

Call to Action

This is just the beginning! It’s a long road ahead to ensure the bill is developed with these important improvements in mind. We’re going to need the support of all of you – reaching out to your legislators, pushing for needed climate action, and ensuring that addressing our emissions in the thermal sector stays top of mind throughout the session. 

We also invite you to join members of the Act on Climate VT Coalition this Monday, January 9th at noon, for a Climate + Energy 2023 Legislative Landscape Webinar. Hear about the prospects for a transformative affordable heat act, the opportunity in an updated renewable standard, prospects for transforming our transportation system, the promise of networked geothermal and far more.  Learn more and register to join us here! 

We’re excited to do this work alongside all of you, and will continue to keep you updated each week as the session progresses!