BOSTON—With home heating prices soaring, Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin is asking state lawmakers to set aside $50 million for a fuel oil reserve fund.
“This is potentially a serious crisis because there is no alternative to heating your home. You cannot operate in a cold house. You cannot live in a cold house,” said Galvin.
A quarter of Massachusetts households — about 667,000 — rely on fuel oil. According to the Department of Energy Resources, the average cost of a gallon of fuel oil is $4.73, nearly two dollars more than a year ago. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association estimates that families will spend $2,115 on oil this winter, a 12.8% increase from 2021-22.
Galvin is offering a state credit of up to $50 million that would allow officials to purchase bulk fuel inventory, a move Galvin says will help control costs and supply in the Bay State. .
“The most important thing is to bring stocks into Massachusetts because there’s a high risk here that if stocks are short the price will only go up because the open market will dictate that,” Galvin said.
Galvin’s plan would also provide financial assistance to middle- and low-income families struggling to pay their heating bills.
A spokesman for House Speaker Ronald Mariano did not say whether Mariano would support Galvin’s proposal.
“The Legislature has consistently made investments to support the low-income home energy assistance program,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to Boston 25. “The expected spikes in energy bills illustrate the urgent need to diversify our state’s energy portfolio, which is why the House passed two major climate bills in the last legislative session, including one focused on boosting renewable energy such as offshore wind.
Jamaica Plain resident Ben Schewendener said he switched his home’s heating from oil to electric several years ago because it’s better for the environment and cheaper.
“Oh my God, yeah, [the price is] awful,” Schewendener said. “I feel bad for these people [who don’t have other heating options].”
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