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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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The consumer always pays the bill

By Carmen Barone

My name is Carmen J. Barone and all the opinions in this article are my own.

I moved to Vermont in 1981 and worked in central Vermont near Montpelier for many years as an electrical contractor D.B.A. as C J Barone Electrical Contractor. I have been involved in the electrical trades since 1958 and have had many years of experience in the environmental business. While working in The Valley, I worked with many fine contractors including Brothers Building, A. W. Clark & Son, RayLar Builders, NorthLand Construction and many more. (Russell Bennett being way ahead of the curve when it came to building energy-efficient homes and buildings.)

Two of my sons reside in Massachusetts, one of whom is a master electrician employed by a very large hospital and the other son is a master plumber in business for himself. I currently hold a Vermont Master Electricians license and a Massachusetts Journey Electrician's license.

While watching television a few nights ago an advertisement for Efficiency Vermont came across the screen. This (nonprofit private, publicly funded agency) is not one of my favorites. Basically the advertisement showed a Vermont homeowner (I assume) making the statements that because of the help he received from Efficiency Vermont, he was able to add insulation to his attic and rigid insulation to his foundation walls and otherwise tighten up his home; thereby, making it more comfortable and saving plus or minus $750 a year in energy costs.

My question is why is Efficiency Vermont advertising for remedial contractors when it should be urging our lawmakers in Montpelier to create better laws governing builders to build more energy-efficient homes and buildings? As an electrical contractor in central Vermont for many years, I can assure you that the building contractors I worked for were aware of energy costs and efficiency in the homes and buildings they constructed.

It appears that Efficiency Vermont is working for the insulation contractors on the public's dime. What do they care? When the 200-plus or minus employees need a raise they just go to the Public (Dis)Service Board for an increase in pay and the Public (Dis)Service Board just increases your and my energy efficiency charge on our electric bill, which at the present time is plus or minus 1 cent per kilowatt hour of electrical consumption.

The Public Service Board works for private business, "not the public," as was recently demonstrated by allowing the merger of two of the state's largest electric utilities, whereupon the merger allows one company to control almost 90 percent of Vermont's electric consumption. That's in the public interest?

My brother and I recently went to a real estate open house at a new home in my neighborhood in Newport, VT. When asking the agent about a recent new home that was being built a few doors from us that was already back-filled around the foundation without rigid insulation, the answer was iffy at best. I then reminded the agent of a recently sold home that the builder, not knowing what to do with the foundation insulation, cut it off a little below grade. I also informed the agent of a few new construction projects nearing completion without any exterior rigid insulation on the foundations, which should be at least basic minimum standards. My friend's home in Newport, which was improved on by the owner, without any help from Efficiency Vermont, most recently passed an Energy Audit, the results of which indicated no further improvements could be made. The oil consumption for the year 2012 was plus or minus 266 gallons and the year of 2011 was plus or minus 228 gallons from a very uncomfortable dwelling and over 500 gallons of oil a year the oil furnace is the only source of heat and is maintained on a yearly basis by an independent technician not affiliated with a fuel supplier.

In conclusion: Hopefully all of us have deep pockets, because our politicians and "nonprofit agencies" are going to continue to fleece us.

Carmen J. Barone, formerly of Moretown and now of Newport, VT.


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