by Rob Roper
Art Woolf has an excellent column in the Burlington Free Press on Vermont’s high electric rates. One of the many good points he makes is about Efficiency Vermont and its impact on what we pay.
Advocates for Vermont’s energy policy – moving toward costly renewable sources – love to point out that Vermont has some of the lowest electricity rates in New England. This is, of course, like saying we are the among the shortest NBA teams. New England has the highest electric rates in the nation, and, when you include all 50 states Vermont is in the top ten. Where in the top ten? This goes to Woolf’s point, and the “Efficiency Vermont Deception.”
Efficiency Vermont, a non-profit quazi government agency that seeks to answer the question ‘how many bureaucrats does it take to change a light bulb,’ is funded through a 7% tax (they like to call it a surcharge; another deception) on our electric bills. It has an annual budget of around $50,000,000, so those pennies add up quick. Without counting that tax as part of Vermonters’ electric rate Vermont has the 8th highest cents per kilowatt rate in the country at 17.84 and the lowest in the region except for Maine. But when you do add the Efficiency Vermont tax to the cost – which we should because we pay it as part of the cost for electricity – we shoot up to 4th highest in the nation, and second highest in New England (thank God for Connecticut) at 19.24¢ per kilowatt hour.
Just FYI, the lowest prices are in Louisiana at 9.16¢ per kilowatt hour, less than half the cost of Vermont.
Woolf points out that other states have similar programs for helping customers reduce their electric usage, but they are funded by the utilities and not via a tax subsidized quasi-government entity. Efficiency Vermont isn’t. The program should be defunded and the money returned to the ratepayers.
- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.