Climate Dispatch: March 3, 2023: Breaking! Affordable Heat Advances Senate on a 19-10 Vote

Today’s Episode

In a monumental step forward for climate action, the Vermont Senate voted 19-10 on Thursday to advance S.5, the Affordable Heat Act. This is the greatest pollution-reduction policy under consideration by the Legislature this session, and legislators have worked hard to make needed improvements to the policy, pushing back against fossil fuel industry attacks to move it forward. 

As Senator White outlines in the Dispatch, it’s taken months of work to get to this moment and now the bill is headed to the House – but not without an additional amendment compromise. The Senate Appropriations Committee added an amendment earlier this week that ensures a legislative check back process. 

Essentially, if the policy is enacted this session, it would launch a 2-year review, public engagement and program design process by the Public Utility Commission and Department of Public Service, after which a 2025 Legislature would have to again vote to pass legislation that would allow the program to be implemented in 2026 as planned. 

We are grateful for the work of Senator White and her colleagues in the Senate, who’ve spent months taking testimony from over 50 witnesses to refine, improve, and advance a bill that truly tackles equitable access to cleaner, affordable heat for Vermont. 

Call to Action

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, and reached out to their Senators asking for their support of the bill. Citizen advocacy matters and your voices made a difference. This week alone, we hand-delivered over a thousand petition signatures to Senators in the State House. 

The work is far from over as the bill heads to the House, so stay tuned for much more in the coming weeks and months. But for now, as we head into Town Meeting Day week, we’re wishing you all meaningful, connected and inspiring community conversations!