Burlington’s Thermal Energy Charter Change approved

Governor signs legislation allowing city to use science-based carbon pricing in buildings to reduce fossil fuel use, support Net Zero Energy city goal

Vermont Business Magazine Burlington’s Thermal Energy Charter Change, proposed by Mayor Miro Weinberger and approved by voters on Town Meeting Day 2021, was signed into law Wednesday by Governor Phil Scott, with some reluctance, after having been passed by the Vermont Legislature earlier this month. This Charter Change will enable Burlington to expand its strategic electrification efforts and represents another step toward making Burlington a Net Zero Energy city.

“The way to achieve the end of our fossil fuel use and address the climate emergency, while improving our quality of life, is to electrify everything, particularly our buildings and vehicles,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The passage into law of Burlington’s Thermal Energy Charter Change gives us an essential new tool for advancing our work to make Burlington a Net Zero Energy city. I look forward to working with the City Council as we continue on the path toward our bold goal. I am proud of Burlington’s leadership on this effort, and I thank the Burlington and Chittenden County legislative delegations for their work to pass the Charter Change, and thank Governor Scott for signing the bill.”

The Charter Change originated as part of a mayoral proposal called the “Building Electrification and Carbon Price Ordinance,” outlined in an October 2020 press release.

Ultimately a portion of the proposal was enacted by the City Council in an ordinance requiring all new construction buildings permitted on or after September 8, 2021, to have a primary renewable heating system. However, another part of the mayor’s proposal, which takes a more comprehensive approach to reducing fossil fuel use in new construction and uses science-based carbon pricing to ensure a level playing field for renewable technologies, required a Charter Change prior to advancing.

With the Thermal Energy Charter Change now approved, the Mayor and City Council can work to develop additional policies to reduce fossil fuel use in buildings, with any new fees requiring additional voter approval prior to being implemented.

The City’s Net Zero Energy Roadmap identified buildings emissions as one of the most important areas in which to reduce fossil fuel emissions in Burlington. The Roadmap found efficiency, weatherization, strategic electrification, and the use of renewable fuels all to be critical to making progress.

Darren Springer, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department, stated: “The passage of the Thermal Energy Charter Change is great news, coming just prior to Earth Day, as we work to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in Burlington. The Charter Change ensures that our City has the ability to make policies commensurate with our ambitious Net Zero Energy goal.”

When signing H.448 Wednesday, Governor Scott issued the following statement: “Although I’m concerned by the potential cost impacts this could have for Burlingtonians, I’m signing the bill because any new policy that could result from it will need to be brought back to Burlington residents for their final say.”

*Learn more about the City’s Thermal Energy Charter Change here.

Source: 4.20.2022.  Burlington, Vt. – BED.


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