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The Green Valley Way

A political campaign, in many ways, is series of conversations. It is an opportunity for those of us who serve in elected office to listen very carefully to the people we serve.

It also provides a basis for voters to measure how well we listened, and how faithfully weve acted. The vast majority of Vermonters I listened to last autumn told me their most pressing concern was the high cost of living in our state. They made it clear; they want action.

The high cost of heating fuel and transportation is a big factor in affordability anxiety for most Vermonters, including me.

I believe in investing money to save energy. I bought a smaller car to save on gas. I also had a home energy audit by Efficiency Vermont, and paid for the improvements they suggested. Although Efficiency Vermont is an electric utility, we now save on both natural gas and electricity, because of their recommendations.

There is a bill moving through the legislature now, S.94, that would create a new efficiency utility. The utility would work like Efficiency Vermont, except it would cover more than just electricity. One proposal in the bill would impose a new tax on home heating fuel. I support the creation of an All Fuels Efficiency Utility but I oppose a new tax.

Some years ago, my electric utility did a total energy audit on the duplex where I lived. They recommended we convert our electric water heaters to gas heaters and reinsulate the entire building. They gave me a pre-approved list of contractors, materials and equipment to do the work, and a pre-approved 5-year loan to pay for it. I signed up. As a result of the improvements, I saved money on my electric bill and gas bill -- more than enough to pay off the loan for the investments, with money to spare. The electric company saved because they did not have to build more generation.

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