The Fuel Line

News for Vermont's Oilheat and Propane Industry

SB Heat Ordinance

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South Burlington became the second city in Vermont to put a partial ban on fossil fuel heat in new construction. Starting next year, any new project will have to ensure 85% of the heat comes from renewable resources. Electric heat pump water heaters would also be required in all new homes, although multi-family and commercial buildings get a two year reprieve from the water heating mandate. The ordinance does not ban the installation of stoves, hearth appliances, or BBQ grills that are fueled by natural gas, propane, or oilheat. Nor does it prevent the installation of heating fuel tanks or natural gas hook-ups. Fossil fuel burning furnaces and boilers are still allowed, as long as they are not the “primary” source of heat.

City Councilor Matt Cota recused himself from the vote and instead provided testimony about the problems with the all electric energy policy. While Vermont’s electricity supply comes from a variety of renewable power generating facilities, Vermont depends on the ISO-New England regional grid to supply 10% of our power. And this electricity comes primarily from fossil fuels. This is particularly true on the coldest nights in the winter when the system is operating its oil fired peaking plants to prevent rolling blackouts. These winter peaking periods are also when electric utilities urge customers to not charge their electric car and to use their backup fossil fuel fired heating system. This is why one electric utility CEO in New England is preparing its customers for rolling blackouts and another is pleading with President Biden for more fossil fuels to generate power this winter.

The measure still passed 4-0.