Lawmakers Urge DPU Action On Winter Energy-Rate Increases

(BusinessWest) Earlier this month Senator John C. Velis (D-Westfield) joined a bipartisan group of 30 Massachusetts State Senators and 76 State Representative on a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) expressing concern about the energy rate increases slated to impact residents this winter. The letter to DPU Chair Matthew Nelson, urges DPU to protect residents of the Commonwealth from these rate increases.

“The number one issue I hear from constituents is that costs are too high, and these expected energy rate increases are only going to make matters worse,” said Senator Velis (D-Westfield). “That’s why I have fought this entire session for tax relief measures and pushed for increased funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Folks should not have to decide between keeping their house warm and putting food on their table, and we’re urging the DPU to do everything in their power to prevent those enormous energy rate hikes from the utility companies. Simply put, we need to do more to help residents this winter, and I am committed to doing whatever I can to make that assistance happen.”

“The people of the Commonwealth have yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield). “Eversource’s proposed rate increase would disproportionally impact the most vulnerable. Meanwhile Eversource reported profits of more than $1.2 billion for 2021. That is an increase of about $15.3 million (1.3%) from the record profits the company reported in 2020, and an increase of $311.4 million (34.3%) from the profits it reported in 2019.”

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources predicts that the coming winter will be colder than last year’s, while the cost of heating may increase by up to 54.6% for electric customers and 28.6% for natural gas. Utility providers largely blame global factors such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. Legislators believe the DPU can do more to tamp down these rate increases and their effects on consumers.

In their letter to the DPU, signatories state, “…proposed rate increases of this magnitude – during the winter season – would disproportionally impact the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable. Moreover, protecting our residents from the cold is not just an affordability and equity concern – it is also a public safety issue. As the oversight agency tasked with prioritizing safety, affordability, and equity with regard to energy rates, we ask that DPU do just that and protect Massachusetts residents from these drastic rate increases this winter season.”

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