Montpelier, VT – After months of testimony and deliberation, major climate legislation is on the verge of moving through the Vermont Senate.

By a 19-10 vote, the Senate approved the first reading of S.5, legislation that provides incentives for households to move away from fossil fuels for heating. The so-called Affordable Heat Act, which now goes to a third reading, would implement a carbon reduction credits system aimed at ending large swings in winter heating bills.

Supporters say the bill’s provisions will save Vermonters $6.4 billion by 2050.

“We looked at provisions throughout the bill to focus on low and moderate income Vermonters that this bill will be affordable and I think this over time will actually give people savings,” said Sen. Christopher Bray, a Democrat from Addison. ,

Local fuel dealers and some state officials, including Gov. Phil Scott, oppose the bill, saying the upfront costs will raise fuel prices by approximately 70 cents per gallon. “Those incentives or subsidies could be costly for the state,” said Scott, who vetoed a House version of the legislation last year.

An amendment to the bill calls for the Vermont Public Utility Commission to evaluate the cost and impact on Vermonters. Those findings will be brought back to the legislature in 2025.