Vermont House Passes Unprecedented, Essential Climate Investments in FY23 Budget
Montpelier – Today, the Vermont House of Representatives passed the FY23 budget, H.740, with unprecedented investments in climate action and resilience, which will help Vermonters reduce their energy costs, their reliance on expensive and polluting fossil fuels and much more. The bill will next head to the Senate.
This level of commitment to climate action is long overdue and essential. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has signaled a dire warning about our global future and the consequences of inaction – something underscored by the recent, harmful geopolitics demonstrating the high costs of remaining dependent on imported fossil fuels.
With this budget, the House is investing more than $200 million in unprecedented funding for climate priorities, including support for increased access to clean and affordable heating and weatherization services for low- and moderate-income Vermonters, expanded incentives and grants for electric vehicles (EVs) and EV supply equipment, help to ready homes and our state’s energy grid for electrification, investments in our climate workforce, and aid to municipalities to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint.
“The Vermont House made a historic investment in programs that reduce our reliance on imported, costly, and price-volatile fossil fuels and really ramp up our efforts to help combat the climate crisis,” said Johanna Miller, Energy & Climate Program Director at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. “This package ofclimate strategies will help ensure Vermont meets the legally binding requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act and all Vermonters – lower-income and historically overburdened Vermonters in particular – power their lives, heat their homes, and get where they need to go with more affordable, cleaner options.”
Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters stated, “Vermonters have long demanded bold climate action, and it’s exciting to see the Vermont House step up with historic investments in climate action. These investments will cut pollution, create good-paying jobs, and help Vermont families button up their homes, and access cleaner and more affordable ways to stay warm and get around.”
“In the face of a worsening climate crisis and global oil markets that again and again have spiked due to natural disasters, economic crises, and the actions of dictators like Putin, the need to finally get off of fossil fuels is more obvious than ever,” added Ben Edgerly Walsh, Climate & Energy Program Director with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “Though these investments will not accomplish that by themselves, they are the most significant investments Vermont has ever made in climate action, and will help thousands of Vermont families cut their fossil fuel use and make ends meet.”
“The health of Vermont’s economy and the health of our environment are inherently intertwined, so it’s critical that our state moves away from imported, price-volatile fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more affordable alternatives,” stated Jordan Giaconia, Public Policy Manager with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. “From clean transportation and workforce development to green energy and home heating, the historic investments included in this year’s budget will take Vermont’s clean energy transition to new heights—a move that promises to keep more dollars flowing into our local economies and less pollution in our atmosphere. VBSR applauds the house for today’s vote and their tireless work to give businesses and everyday Vermonters the tools they need to be climate champions.”
Additionally, the Transportation bill, H.736, advanced in the Vermont House today, and includes major investments in programs and resources for climate action. In addition to the clean transportation investments in the budget, H.736 also continues zero-fare public transit, and supports the creation of innovative new rural public transit options.
“As transportation is nearly 40% of Vermont’s carbon emissions, the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in Vermont, the House’s actions in passing bold investments in vehicle electrification sets Vermont on a course to achieving the required carbon reduction requirements,” said Robb Kidd, Vermont Chapter Program Manager at the Sierra Club. “The budget and transportation bills strategically support the transition to remove Vermont’s dependencies on fossil fuels by helping those of low and moderate incomes to benefit from incentives, strategically deploying infrastructure, continuing investments in fare-free transit, and supporting innovative rural transit solutions.”
“The proposed investments the Vermont House advanced, both in the FY ‘23 Budget and the Transportation Bill (T-Bill) are essential and really something to celebrate. These investments also represent a minimum level of funding needed to ensure we make significant, annual progress to meet our legally-binding pollution reduction requirements – and do so in an equitable, strategic manner,” added Miller. “We thank and applaud Speaker Krowinski, Chairs Mary Hooper and Diane Lanpher, the committees, and all the House members who voted to support these critical investments. We look forward to continuing to work to maintain these essential climate investments as these bills move through the legislative process.”
The FY ‘23 Budget “The Big Bill” (H.740)
Climate Investments Summary
Low Income Weatherization Program:
$45,000,000 for the Home Weatherization Assistance Program run by the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Community Action Agencies. Sec. G.600(a)(1)
Moderate Income Weatherization:
$35,000,000 for weatherization for Vermonters with moderate incomes, through Efficiency Vermont. Sec. G.600(a)(2)
Home Electrical System Upgrades:
$20,000,000 for “financial and technical assistance for low- and moderate-income Vermonters to upgrade home electrical systems to enable installation of energy saving technologies,” through the Clean Energy Development Fund at the Department of Public Service. Sec. G.600(a)(4)
“Switch & Save” Heat Pump Water Heater Program:
$5,000,000 to create a “Switch & Save” program to allow low- and moderate-income Vermonters to install heat pump water heaters at low- or no-cost, through the Clean Energy Development Fund at the Department of Public Service. Sec. G.600(a)(4)
Load Management and Storage:
$2,000,000 for load management and energy storage for low- and moderate-income Vermonters, smaller electric utilities, and municipalities, through the Department of Public Service. Sec. G.600(a)(5)
Advanced Metering Infrastructure:
$5,000,000 for matching funds for Advanced Metering Infrastructure for rural and municipal electric utilities, through the Department of Public Service. Sec. G.600(a)(8)
Municipal Energy Resilience:*
$48,400,000 to support municipalities with technical assistance, energy assessments and municipal weatherization, fuel switching and other potential energy-saving and resilience measures. This includes $40,000,000 in direct grants to municipalities for this work of up to $250,000.
Electric and High-Efficiency Vehicle Incentives:
Expands the suite of vehicle incentives by investing:
- $12,000,000 in Incentive Program for New PEVs.
- $2,000,000 in Drive Electric Vermont.
- $3,000,000 in MileageSmart.
- $3,000,000 in Replace Your Ride Incentives.
- $1,000,000 in eBike incentives.
- $1,000,000 in eATV and eSnowmobile incentives.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Grants:
Expands the existing EVSE Grant by investing:
- $10,000,000 in Level 1 and 2 EVSE at workplaces and multi-unit dwellings and Level 1, 2, and 3 EVSE at public venues and attractions.
- No less than 30% of the $10,000,000 appropriated in this bucket will go to Level 1 and Level 2 EVSE deployment in multi-unit dwellings.
- $3,000,000 in Level 1 and 2 EVSE at State parks and fishing access areas.
- $2,000,000 for public EVSE along highway networks.
Sec. G.600(b)(1), (b)(2), and (a)(3). Note also that $6,250,000 in state and federal transportation funds are dedicated in the Transportation Bill for Level 3 EVSE along the State highway network, which includes $2,000,000 in Sec. G.600(a)(3) of the budget.
Language in the budget and the T-bill also ties the pace of deployment of these vehicle and EVSE incentives and grants to the Global Warming Solutions Act’s requirements, and makes sure that outreach and translation services are funded to advance equitable access to these programs.
Mobility and Transportation Innovation Grant Program:
Invests $500,000 in micro-transit projects that improve both mobility and access to services for transit-dependent Vermonters, and reduces the use of single-occupancy vehicles and GHG emissions.
Zero-Fare Public Transit:
Allocates an additional $1,433,000 to continue zero-fare transit in urban areas, excluding LINK Express commuter routes. Rural service providers already have the funding to continue zero-fare through FY23.
*This summary reflects significant, new FY 23 climate mitigation commitments in the FY23 budget bill — above and beyond baseline funding for programs like low-income weatherization and multi-year funding appropriated in the 2021 legislative session. It also does not summarize some very important, additional FY 23 climate resilience investments, or investments made in other bills such as the municipal energy resilience bill *(H.518) and the workforce development bill (H.703). It also does not include the appropriation attached to S.148 – the Environmental Justice Bill – to support a statewide mapping tool and additional capacity in state government to implement this important policy.