Just change the priorities
There is a push by some in the Vermont Legislature for an increase in funding for the purpose of weatherization of homes. However, there is a simple solution to avoid any new funding. All that is needed is a change in priorities.
The main source of the money Efficiency Vermont receives is from a surcharge on your electricity bills. This surcharge would be sufficient if all the business rebates are suspended at the end of the fiscal year and instead use the business rebate incentive money for the purpose of home energy rebates and weatherization. Currently Efficiency Vermont has a very large payout to the business community. An example of spending was detailed in The Times Argus on Feb. 13 that stated the National Life Group received money that they had accessed from Efficiency Vermont to make an upgrade at the National Life Building in Montpelier for “new sensor-equipped lighting that illuminates based on the amount of daylight and the occupancy in the spaces.” The article also stated that this lighting was installed in the area rented by the state of Vermont’s Agency of Transportation and the Natural Resources Department.
The amount Efficiency Vermont rebated to the National Life Group is considered by Efficiency Vermont to be proprietary information of the National Life Group. It must be assumed that projects such as this are very costly and the rebate very large. According to the Efficiency Vermont website the National Life Group has had over a dozen of these projects in the past.
I do not think it is wise to be giving companies incentives that have tax deductions available to them for maintaining their buildings. I found out through the help of the lieutenant governor’s office that the 2012 Efficiency Vermont fiscal year budget estimate is that 56 percent of their income will be spent on incentives and the rest will be spent on things such as technical assistance. By changing the priorities as I am suggesting the businesses won’t suffer because they will still have technical advice available and be able to write off their improvements on their federal income taxes. This suggestion to change priorities to help pay for home energy efficiency and weatherization goes along with the policy of not raising taxes in a manner much more sensible than Gov. Shumlin’s proposal to have the working poor pay the bill for early childhood education.
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