Housing Hustle The Scott Administration delivered a stark message to the Joint Fiscal Committee this week: the housing crisis is real and the legislature needs to act now. A detailed report on the current housing deficit shows that most communities are not producing of enough housing units to meet current demand. In Chittenden County, the rental vacancy rate is 1%. Vermont needs 40,000 new housing units by the end of the decade. Only 2300 building permits were issued last year, which is about the same number of housing units that came off-line. The Scott Administration is proposed substantial reforms to ease the regulatory burden and high costs of developing new housing.
Flood Money Nearly all of the $20 million set aside for the Vermont Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program (BEGAP) has been spent. A report issued this week shows that the flooding from July will cost the state more than $217 million, making it more expensive than the damage from Tropical Storm Irene a decade ago. There is still plenty of money available for Vermonters whose heating systems were harmed. Lawmakers set aside $10 million, but only $301,541 has been spent on 114 heating appliances. Some income qualified customers could get up to $10,000, which includes replacing oil and propane fired equipment. Check out the efficient boilers and furnaces that qualify. We have a list of customer leads that are likely to qualify for help. Contact us for more information.
DMV—Day All Vermont DMV offices are closed through November 14 as the agency implements a major computer system upgrade. There are also significant changes to the DMV Registration Application (VD-119), Vehicle Titles, and fee changes. Click here for more information.
Fuel Funds The Split the Ticket Fund continues to help Vermont's neighbors in need that don’t qualify for the federal fuel assistance program. The fund has delivered more than 100,000 gallons of free heating fuel over the past fifteen years. Learn more at ticketsplit.org
Electric Trucks The regulation requiring Vermont truck dealers to sell more electric and fewer diesel powered trucks is getting another review. This is the rule that requires half of the new Class 4-8 trucks sold in Vermont to have “zero emissions” by 2030. The update doesn’t change the mandate, but does clarify that the existing transit buses are exempt. The decision to amend the rule gives Vermonters a chance to comment. The Agency of Natural Resources will hold a hearing on December 8 in Montpelier. Contact us for more information.
Follow the PUC A program that spends up to $2 million per year in electric rate payer money to incentivize electric cars and heat is now on pause. While funding was approved by the legislature, a revised plan on how to spend it was not. According to the decision made last week, the money can’t be used without a new spending plan approved by the Public Utility Commission. Over the past three years, money set aside for the Energy Efficiency Modernization Act (EEMA) has been used to install nearly 300 cold climate heat pumps in homes of low income Vermonters. The spending “pause” puts on hold $250k in EV incentives and $700k for electric heat pumps. It could take up to twelve months to resolve. This decision only impacts EEMA funds. Other state and federal incentive programs to promote electric vehicles and electric heat are still in effect.
Credit Market The Public Utility Commission (PUC) is expected to soon appoint the fifteen members of the Clean Heat Technical Advisory Group. This is the committee that will advise the PUC on how to construct a Clean Heat Credit exchange and how much credit each kind of heating equipment, service or fuel deserves for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
More Canadian Power Possible There will be a new push to build more power lines through Vermont and New Hampshire. A new proposal seeks to construct a 1,200 MW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) bidirectional line between New England and Québec. The 211-mile, $2 billion Twin State Energy Link would supply twice the power of the now-closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
News of Note
Placard problems, too many wood pellets and overweight trucks. See who got pulled over in the Vermont Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Report found here.
More than 66 thousand new and used vehicles have been registered in Vermont in 2023. Find out what Vermonters are driving here on the Vermont Vehicle Index.
Keeping AM radio in new vehicles, including electric models, could cost automakers billions of dollars. According to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, researchers found that reducing the electromagnetic interference generated by EVs, which can distort AM radio signals, is "challenging and could lead to added costs for vehicle manufacturers.”
Vermont’s minimum wage increases in 2024. Starting on January 1, the minimum wage bumps up to $13.67 per hour, which is nearly 50-cents the current rate. Also effective on January 1 is an increase in the “Taxable Wage Base for Unemployment Insurance.” This rate will increase by $800, from its current level of $13,500 to $14,300. As you know, employers will pay unemployment insurance contributions on the first $14,300 an employee earns in calendar year 2024. All payments are deposited into the State’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is used for the sole purpose of paying benefits to unemployed Vermonters.
The tax on gasoline sold in Vermont is up by about half a cent in Q4 2023. Check out details on taxes charged and gallons sold at the Vermont Motor Fuel Index found at meadowhillmedia.com.
Updated November 10, 2023