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The good news is that the Norfolk Southern Railroad Company does not operate in Vermont. Although it might run as the part-ownership of CSX/PAR, but we are saved from the havoc NS created in East Palestine, Ohio. However, our train wreck is coming down the tracks: S.5, recently passed by a vote of 18-10 by the Vermont Senate.

In a subtle move, S.5 will have all Vermont homes and businesses convert from fossil fuels to electricity. Its methodology is so convoluted and its implementation so costly that an amendment was attached, postponing its start for two years. During that time, the Agency of Natural Resources will study how the bill’s complex structure will work or not work.

More bad news was directed at certain Vermont Climate Council members, who had a large hand in seeing that S.5 got through the Vermont Senate. There are members of the 23-person council who would personally gain from the adoption and immediate implementation of S.5. To have a direct conflict of interest was never a reason for not serving on the council.

Regardless, my wife and I are considering converting our 200-year-old home and our transportation needs to all-electric. We determined that the train-wreck is coming, and we want to get ahead. We obtained cost estimates from our electrician and heating contractors, and from Tesla. Below are our discoveries:

• Buy 10 Mitsubishi heat pump units $60,000

• Provide electric service to each pump $8,000

• Convert oil-fired furnace to stand-by mode $1,000

• Replace kitchen Garland gas stove with electric $5,000

• Replace gas stove in den with pellet stove $4,000

• Replace 33amp Winco gas-fired generator with equivalent two-week backup battery storage unit $60,000

• Provide new building for battery storage due to fire risk $20,000

• Add electric service to house for 200 amps $5,000

• Replace all external garden/field gas equipment $6,000

• Install a Level 3 charger in garage $1,000

• Replace two gas cars with Tesla, Model Y Longrange $55,000

• Contingency/sales taxes at 10 percent of above $22,000

• Total estimated cost to do full-conversion to electric $247,000

There may be credits to off-set the above and the sale of our cars, one a 2002 Tahoe, and the equipment. However, we are doubtful anyone would want to purchase gas fired equipment knowing that they will be forced to convert at a future date.

We will, however, no longer need to send dollars out of state to pay for 1,600 gallons of fuel oil and 600 gallons of propane. Instead, we will be sending more money, not only out of state but out of country, to Green Mountain Power’s parent company in Canada.

After some soul searching, my wife and I decided that we have to ignore that the batteries to be installed in our house and car have material mined in The Democratic Republic of Congo. Upon further research, the mining is referred to as artisanal mining (by hand) and accomplished by men, women and children (read Cobalt Red). Moreover, the metals used to make the batteries are processed in Communist China under horrible working conditions. As long as such working conditions are not local, we can, at least for now, ignore them and get on with the conversion.

We have some issues to overcome before we can convert: will our tradespeople be available; will the supply chain meet our deadline; and most critically, where will we obtain $247,000?

One can surmise that Vermont has a dozen train wrecks to deal with and more on the way. Why would the Legislature set another wreck in motion? Could it be that out-of-state influencers are driving this train?

Don Keelan writes a regular column for Vermont News & Media. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.


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