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Welch announces legislation to spur the use of modern wood heating systems

February 17, 2015
Press Release

This afternoon in Montpelier, Rep. Peter Welch announced bipartisan legislation that would make it more affordable for Vermonters to install wood heating systems in their homes or businesses. 

The Biomass Thermal Utilization(BTU) Actwould expand the existing renewable energy tax credit to include wood, or “biomass thermal,” heating systems.  Welch made the announcement at National Life Group’s Montpelier campus.  The company installed a wood heating system in 2010 that has reduced its carbon footprint by 45 percent and heating costs by 50 percent. 

Welch was joined by representatives from Vermont's biomass industry and energy conservation leaders.   

“Biomass heating systems are a great way to reduce heating bills while improving the environment,” said Welch.  “Using a regionally sourced fuel like wood will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and spur Vermont’s local wood fuel industry. This bipartisan legislation will make it more affordable for Vermonters to install a modern wood heating system so they can experience the benefits that early adopters like National Life are enjoying.”  

“Modern wood heating can help Vermont become more energy independent,” said Adam Sherman, Manager of the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC) at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC). “Replacing expensive imported fossil fuels like oil and propane with local, renewable fuels like wood, chips, and pellets saves folks money, keeps dollars in the Vermont economy, and helps create vital local markets for low-quality timber from forest management. Congressman Welch’s legislation will put biomass thermal technology on an equal footing with other renewable energy sources in the tax code and within reach of more homes and businesses in Vermont and across the country.”     

The BTU Act adds high efficiency biomass thermal to the list of renewable energy technologies that currently benefit from investment tax credits. These investment credits currently applies to solar thermal and geothermal technologies, but not to biomass thermal.

According to VEIC, switching from heating oil to a biomass heating system can reduce heating bills by an average of 40-50 percent and can lower carbon emissions by as much as 95 percent.