With energy costs expected to skyrocket in the coming months, Massachusetts officials are looking for ways to help residents keep their homes warm and their lights on this winter.
Earlier this week, National Grid reported that the typical residential electric customer can expect a monthly bill of $293 this winter, up from $179 last year. National Grid and Eversource are also forecasting higher gas bills, with the companies citing a spike in natural gas prices as the cause.
“Everyone should be aware that, this winter, Massachusetts is more like Europe than other states, because we are at the end of our national gas pipeline system,” said Judy Chang, undersecretary for solutions. energy and climate change to the executive office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said Tuesday.
At best, this winter will be “a very expensive energy winter,” she said, according to State House News Service.
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Massachusetts is awaiting news from the Biden administration on what the federal government can do “to improve our ability to get through the winter, both in terms of the electricity available to heat their homes, but also in hopes of dealing with part of the price issues,” Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday, according to the news service.
Earlier this month, the senses. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren joined members of the New England Senate delegation to call on President Joe Biden to cut energy costs by releasing oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.
Rising energy prices “may have a very real effect on the ability of many New England families to keep their homes at a safe temperature this winter,” the senators wrote in a joint letter. “No family should have to choose between paying their bill to keep their kids warm, putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.”
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office summoned utility companies, state administrators and regulators on Wednesday, according to MassLive.
Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis said in a statement provided to Boston.com earlier this week that the AG’s office was exploring all possible options to ease the burden of higher energy costs.
In the meantime, Healey urged Massachusetts residents to contact their utility companies to create payment plans, according to MassLive. She also suggested that Massachusetts could follow New Hampshire’s lead, expanding fuel assistance through a combination of federal and state funds, according to the outlet.
Massachusetts offers the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps eligible households pay a portion of their winter heating bills.
Secretary of State William Galvin has proposed that the Legislature create a heating oil reserve of up to $50 million to help middle- and low-income residents, which would be controlled by the state Treasury, according to the State House News. Service.
“If prices stay high, it could spell disaster for working poor and middle-class families who are already struggling to cope with all the other problems caused by inflation,” Galvin said. “Buying oil right now is a risk that many private companies are unwilling to take, but it is a risk that the state must take to ensure our residents can survive the winter.”
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