A main goal of the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) that would be established under the Affordable Heat Act is to reduce climate pollution in Vermont in line with Vermont’s legal obligations – 40% lower by 2030, 80% lower by 2050.
But the CHS doesn’t have to start from scratch to do this. Vermont already has, and will likely expand, several programs that reduce both monthly energy bills and fossil heating emissions. Those programs include the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), fossil reductions under the Renewable Energy Standard (“Tier 3”), rebates from energy efficiency utilities, and the Clean Energy Development Fund, among others.
All of these actions contribute towards meeting the overall emissions reduction targets of the CHS, and therefore would qualify to earn clean heat credits. This is an important feature of the CHS structure that promotes cost-effective use of existing programs in the energy sector. Creating the CHS as an “umbrella” policy that counts all eligible savings the same–regardless of who delivers them–will give Vermont the greatest flexibility in reaching the GHG reduction obligations, encourage action by many actors, and will lower the cost of meeting GHG obligations.
Some have asked: “But if a utility already has an obligation to deliver Tier 3 savings, or a CAP agency already has a budget to deliver low-income weatherization, isn’t it “double counting” to give the same actions credit under the CHS?” The clean heat working group responds: “Not at all. If an analogy helps, consider a school with a math requirement for graduation. If you take a math class it may meet the math requirement and will also count towards the credits needed to graduate. The class is satisfying two requirements, but the math credits only count once on your transcript. That’s not ‘double counting’.”