Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill last Friday that would have helped the state meet climate change commitments by creating a ‘clean heat’ standards for all buildings in the Green Mountain State. Elsewhere in Montpelier, the City Council is talking about a measure at the local level with similar goals.
The council passed a net zero energy resolution in 2018. Under it, Montpelier must stop using fossil fuels in its own municipal operations by 2030. The city would need to construct new buildings that are designed from the ground up to use renewable energy. An official energy policy for municipal buildings before the City Council Wednesday night included a ban on construction of any more city-owned buildings that use fossil fuels.
Montpelier would also need to retrofit existing buildings so that they can also go renewable. The energy policy also stipulates the need to perform those retrofits by the end of the decade.
“It seemed to me that, in the interest of good governance, we should have an inventory of which buildings those are and what needs to happen to make those, at least, estimated costs to do that,” City Manager Bill Fraser said Wednesday night.
Fraser added it likely won’t take too long to come up with an inventory. However, it might not be ready by the next council meeting on May 25.
“These three buildings here are already on district heat,” he said. “We’ve got a pellet stove at the Senior Center; we’re about to change the Public Works Garage to either pellets or methane. I assume we would not consider the Rec building until we know what the future of that is. So, we may not have that many left, but I think we just need to find out which ones are left.”
Councilor Lauren Hierl noted that state government may be able to help out.
“Just today, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that will create a grant program for municipalities for up to $500,000 for approved projects for weatherization, thermal efficiency, (or) to supplement or replace fossil fuel heating systems with more efficient renewable or electric heating systems,” she said. I very much support moving forward with this; I think it’s the kind of thing we have to be doing if we’re serious about our net-zero commitment.”
Tuesday’s attempt in the Vermont House to override the veto of a ‘clean heat’ standard for all buildings statewide failed by a single vote.