Mass. Sec. of State Galvin proposes $50 million home heating oil reserve

BOSTON—With home heating prices soaring, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is calling on state lawmakers to set aside $50 million for a heating oil reserve fund.

“This is potentially a severe crisis because there is no alternative to heating your home. You can’t operate in a cold home. You can’t live in a cold home,” Galvin said.

A quarter of Massachusetts households--around 667,000--rely on heating oil. According to the Dept. of Energy Resources, the average cost for a gallon of heating oil is $4.73, almost two dollars more than a year ago. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association estimates families will spend $2,115 on oil this winter, an increase of 12.8 percent from 2021-22.

Galvin is proposing a state appropriation of up to $50 million that would allow officials to purchase inventories of wholesale fuel, a move Galvin said will help control costs and supply in the Bay State.

“The biggest thing is to bring inventory into Massachusetts, because there’s a high risk here that if inventory is short, then the price is only going to go higher because the free market is going to dictate that,” Galvin said.

Galvin’s plan would also offer financial assistance to middle and low-income families struggling to pay their heating bill.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Ronald Mariano didn’t indicate if 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. “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 laws this past legislative session, including one focused on bolstering renewable energy such as offshore wind.”

Jamaica Plain resident Ben Schewendener said he transitioned his home heating from oil to electric several years ago because it’s better for the environment and cheaper.

“Oh my God, yeah, [the price is] horrible,” Schewendener said. “I feel bad for those people [who don’t have other heating options].”

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