Innovate to affordability

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.

I will support the creation of an All Fuels Efficiency Utility with the following conditions: 1. The Public Service Board maintains oversight of the utility and puts it out for competitive bid every 5 years, to ensure competitive pricing and innovative ideas.

2. The customer pays the utility back for the cost of improvements plus interest. Structured properly, these payments could be from money saved on fuel. Loan payments would recycle through the utility to finance the next project. Seed money from the Clean Energy Fund could finance the utilitys start-up. Funds generated by interest would make it self-sustaining. In fact, as markets see financial value, the All Fuels Efficiency Utility should be able to raise funds from investors. Vermonters would say thats a smart investment.

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