Expand and/or create acquisition requirements at the municipal and state level for a wider variety of equipment and technologies that reduce GHG emissions:
House Bill 529, 2019, and Vermont Statutes Title 29, Chapter 49, Section 903 already direct the Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) to ensure that at least 50% of the vehicles purchased or leased annually be EVs or PHEVs, increasing to at least 75% beginning July 1, 2021. Additional legislative actions could be taken to create and/or expand acquisition requirements at the municipal and state level for a wider range of available equipment and technologies that have lower GHG emissions, including but not limited to electric lawn care equipment.
Expand access to the State Energy Management System’s (SEMP) zero-interest loan programs:
Expand access to Vermont’s public school districts and municipalities to the State Energy Management Program’s (SEMP) zero-interest revolving loan funds for financing energy efficiency improvements and increasing the use of renewable resources. Or, if it’s not possible to expand access to the two SEMP zero-interest loan programs, create a separate zero-interest loan fund available to these public entities. https://bgs.vermont.gov/sites/bgs/files/documents/SEMP%20Guidelines%20%26%20Procedures%202016.pdf.http://www.bgs.vermont.gov/commissioner/energy-environment.
Require inclusion and preference for equipment and technologies that have lower GHG emissions in purchasing decisions:
When possible, modify budgeting and procurement processes used by local governments, state agencies and departments, and public school districts to give preference to and/or financial incentives to hire contractors or purchase technologies and equipment that may cost more, but have lower GHG emissions, as well as lower operating and life-cycle costs, whenever that equipment is available and practical.
Legislation and Policies Designed to Reduce GHG Emissions in the Transportation Sector Should Also Address Machines Other Than On-road Vehicles:
To-date, legislation and policy decisions designed to reduce GHG emissions within the Transportation Sector have focused exclusively on vehicles (ie. automobiles, trucks, and buses), despite the fact that transportation fuels (ie. gas and diesel) are used to power internal combustion engines found in a wide variety of machines not used for on-road transportation, including: motor boats; sail boats; personal watercraft; ferries; all-terrain vehicles; snowmobiles; construction equipment; farm equipment; commercial and residential lawn mowers; and “chore tools” (e.g. chain saws, string trimmers, debris/leaf blowers; etc.). Because there are probably hundreds of thousands of these machines operating in Vermont, and they often have low fuel efficiency/high fuel consumption rates, and minimal air pollution controls, these machines are not only generating a significant amount of Vermont’s GHG emissions, but are also a significant source of harmful air pollutants.
Expand VEDA’s mandate to help businesses reduce GHG emissions:
VEDA has a low-interest Small Business Loan Program VEDA https://www.veda.org/commercial-loan-rates-fees, but according to statute it’s only available to businesses that are “unable to access conventional credit”. If possible, amend this statute to open this program up to businesses that CAN access conventional credit, but would be more likely to invest in energy-saving technologies if they had access to an interest rate that was lower than those offered by conventional loan providers. This would not only help these businesses reduce their GHG emissions, but would also help them become more profitable.
Reduce the sales tax rate on GHG-saving equipment and technologies to make the amount of sales tax paid by the consumer equivalent to the sales tax paid on conventional equipment: Because the purchase price of GHG-saving equipment and technologies is often higher than that of conventional equipment, this represents a significant barrier to increased adoption, even though the operating/life-cycle costs of this equipment is significantly lower. And while electric utility incentives do reduce the higher upfront cost of energy-saving equipment or technologies to some degree, the 6% sales tax applied to the higher cost in effect penalizes consumers and contractors who are trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing this equipment and technologies.
To remove this cost burden, the legislature could reduce the sales tax on GHG-saving technologies and equipment that costs significantly more than conventional equipment. And it’s important to note that this action would be revenue-neutral since the actual sales tax collected on a particular piece of equipment or technology would actually be similar to the amount of sales tax that what would have been collected on the conventional technology and equipment. For example, if a commercial lawn mower costs $15,000, the 6% sales tax would add $900. And if a similar commercial electric mower costs $25,000 and is taxed at only 3.6%, the collected sales tax would still be $900.
Expand Efficiency Vermont’s mandate: Enact legislation to allow Efficiency Vermont to promote electric and alternative fuel technologies and equipment that have lower GHG emissions.