Winter cold might be the furthest thing from Vermonter’s minds right now, however, now is the time to start thinking about how to heat next winter. “Reliable and renewable heating alternatives to oil and gas exist, and there has never been a better time for Vermonters to make the switch,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont. “With new incentives and the state sales exemption recently signed into law, you can get straight to saving money with local wood.”
The savings available to Vermonters come from a number of places. First, a rural economic development bill sponsored by Senator Starr and recently signed into law by the Governor eliminates the sales tax on modern automated wood heating systems. In addition to the sales tax exemption, there are a number of new incentives and many utilities-specific incentives. Efficiency Vermont offers a $3,000 flat-rate incentive for new advanced wood boilers. Additionally, the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) offers a $3,000 flat-rate incentive for a total of $6,000 off a new renewable wood heating system.
“Efficiency Vermont is excited to be a part of this great partnership to help more Vermonters save money and energy, and help our environment by utilizing advanced wood heat technologies,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Karen Glitman. “So much great work has been done in the wood heat sector, and we’re looking forward to being a part of taking it to the next level with new incentives, technical support, contractor training, and consumer education.” Additional opportunities are available to Vermonters on more location-specific basis, such as $1,000 rebate on approved pellet boilers/furnaces by Washington Electric Cooperative. A full overview of Vermont wood heat incentives can be found on Renewable Energy Vermont’s website.
Advanced wood heating solutions are highly efficient; support sustainable forest management; utilizing local wood; and produce negligible emissions. Advanced wood heat is a widely recognized, energy efficient way to heat homes and businesses with all of the convenience of a traditional heating system, thanks to the automated system which feeds the pelleted or chipped wood fuel into the system. “As a homeowner, I can tell you that this system is as easy to use as an oil furnace while providing convenience and savings of a renewable fuel,” said Susan Clark, a homeowner in Middlesex and advanced wood heat user. “We heated with traditional cordwood for 15 years before SunWood Biomass helped us make the switch to advanced wood heat. There is no lugging wood and no mess. A fuel truck comes twice a year, drops off our local wood pellets, and we set our thermostat.” Advanced wood heat is a solution that has garnered considerable attention in the past few years in a state which is heavily dependent on foreign fuels for heating and has failed to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The 5-Year Plan for Advanced Wood Heating released last year by Renewable Energy Vermont brought to light that 78 cents of every dollar spent on fossil fuel heating goes out of the state, while using local wood, much like local food, keeps our energy dollars local. Due to this solution’s position at the confluence of these benefits and Vermont’s needs, advanced wood heating solutions received tri-partisan support this past legislative biennium.
Last year, bipartisan legislation was put forth by Rep. Bob Helm and Rep. Curt McCormack. This legislative session, the legislation was incorporated into the Senate Agriculture Committee’s rural economic development bill. “The passage of the Senate Agricultural Committee’s bill is important and a win for our rural economy said Senator Anthony Pollina of Washington County, a member of the Senate Agricultural Committee. “It’s not only good for homeowners and small businesses, it is also a win for hard-working Vermonters who care for the working landscape which makes this state such an incredible place to live.” “I am very grateful for the leadership of Representative Helm, Senator Starr, and Senator Pollina for championing this sector which is a pillar of Vermont’s forest and climate economy, said Dave Frank, owner of SunWood Biomass, a Waitsfield-based advanced wood heating company. “This solution is one that is one that is well suited to our state’s long history of self-reliance and stewardship and dependence on our working lands.”