On any given week, our e-mail inboxes replicate the issues of our constituents. For years, emails have poured in about COVID-19, training, local weather change, infrastructure, and extra. This winter, a high concern is the worth of power.
We share this concern and have been working collectively since we had been elected to reform the state Division of Public Utilities (DPU) and break down limitations to inexperienced power.
We’ve made some progress, however there may be way more to do.
Our constituents need to cut back their carbon footprints, however utilities typically increase value and logistical hurdles. The utilities contend that the restrictions of our present electrical grid make it troublesome for them to help putting in rooftop photo voltaic, or battery storage for charging an electrical car, or making a neighborhood photo voltaic co-op.
The outdated grid not solely makes delivering electrical energy inefficient, it’s anti-consumer and unhealthy for the surroundings.
Final session, we filed, fought for and, finally, handed a brand new legislation to create a Grid Modernization and Client Advisory Board. Due to this new legislation, utilities are required to submit grid modernization plans to this board, driving Massachusetts in the direction of a Twenty first-century electrical energy grid with constituent voices on the desk.
However at the same time as we work to make our grid extra environment friendly at delivering energy, we have to convey costs down now. That’s why we filed and handed laws to allow constituents who don’t personal their very own houses, or who dwell in co-housing or a condominium growth, to entry the monetary advantages of photo voltaic web metering.
And for constituents who’re dwelling on mounted incomes, we’ve labored to make sure the Low Earnings Warmth and Power Help Program (LIHEAP) is absolutely funded all through this winter.
However there’s extra.
In Massachusetts, utilities should obtain approval from the DPU for the charges they’re permitted to cost. We had been heartened when the DPU just lately ordered utilities to cut back the worth of pure fuel. Nevertheless, we agree with Power and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper that that is an “necessary reminder that we have to urgently and equitably transition away from risky fossil fuels, which proceed to threaten the monetary safety of our communities.”
When the DPU units utility charges, it additionally units utility income. Massachusetts’ DPU has persistently allowed utilities to make greater income off of Massachusetts ratepayers than neighboring states enable. As a way to forestall the DPU from approving computerized charge will increase as a matter in fact, now we have once more filed An Act Defending Shoppers from Unreasonable Utility Price Will increase (Senate SD313 / Home Invoice 495).
We wrote in regards to the utility sweetheart offers final session together with the president of the Acadia Heart, a clear power nonprofit with which now we have partnered.
However even with this laws, utilities would nonetheless be chargeable for power system planning, proudly owning and working grid infrastructure, and serving clients. Not solely would conflicts of curiosity stay, so would planning silos between totally different utilities, which trigger overspending, diminished reliability, and extra air pollution. There’s additionally no incentive to contemplate fairness and environmental justice issues.
That’s why we’ve partnered once more with the Acadia Heart to file laws to implement the RESPECT initiative. An Act Reforming Power System Planning for Fairness and Local weather Transformation (Senate SD863 / Home Invoice 1696) is an bold proposal to overtake power system planning and reimagine the regulatory framework for utilities.
It shouldn’t break the financial institution to maintain your lights on and your private home at an inexpensive temperature.
For those who suppose you’ve been paying an excessive amount of for power, please know we’re channeling our power towards an inexpensive and clear power future for all.
Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, is state senator for the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester District; to study extra about her work, log on to SenatorJoComerford.org;
Natalie M. Blais, D-Sunderland, is state consultant for the first Franklin District; to study extra about her work, log on to Repblais.org.
Massachusetts expands funding for housing programs: How those changes may help New Bedford
NEW BEDFORD — New and pending legislation may put New Bedford in a better position to benefit from changes to housing programs.
New Bedford Office of Housing and Community Development Director Josh Amaral said it’s expected that two housing programs on the state level and parts of the bond bill once signed will have a positive impact on New Bedford’s housing challenges.
“We want New Bedford to take full advantage,” he said. “This is a program that has been around for a decade, and a New Bedford development has never actually received any tax credits through that program.”
In October, Gov. Maura Healey signed a tax package into law that included the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. More recently, she proposed a $4 million Housing Bond Bill called the Affordable Homes Act.
Amaral said he’s most excited about the HDIP program, describing it as a really big tool to stimulate development in New Bedford. It increases the annual program cap from $10 to $57 million in 2023 and after that to $30 million annually.
Earlier this year, the City Council expanded the HDIP zone throughout the city Previously, the only projects that were eligible for funding in New Bedford were in the immediate downtown area.
“We’re excited now that there’s actually increased funding so that we might be able to propose projects all over the city whereas in the past we were just confined to that zone,” he said.
Even when there were downtown developments that could potentially be a good fit, not enough money was allocated for that program. He said $10 million a year was allocated to the program across the whole state. He said cities like Worcester and Haverill have received funding for multiple projects
Amaral said recently the 28-unit Route 18 and Union Street project benefitted slightly from a tax increment exemption arrangement, which is part of that program and allows some savings on property taxes over the first few years of the development. However, they received none of the tax credits, which the money to help with the development comes from.
“We’re excited about that,” he said. “I think that boost will be really powerful for us in New Bedford, and we’re trying to position ourselves to take the most advantage of it.”
Annual tax credit cap increases by $20 million
As for the $40 to $60 million increase in the annual program cap for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, he said the increased funding will be a helpful tool in accomplishing Healey’s goals. It’s a tax credit for taxpayers who invest in a low-income housing project.
“While arguably needed more in Greater Boston, increased LIHTC funding will help make more mixed-income projects in New Bedford possible and will hopefully provide more needed affordable rental housing in our surrounding towns as well,” he said.
What New Bedford might get out of the Massachusetts Housing Bond Bill
He said elements of the Housing Bond Bill are also of interest, including additional funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund since many projects need additional financial support from the government to become reality.
“More money in that pool will certainly help us and keys in on a priority of ours to increase housing that’s affordable and attainable for New Bedford residents.
When New Bedford put out its housing plan six months ago, he said a few strategies in there are echoed in the governor’s proposal, specifically increased funding for first-time homeowners, and an enhanced version that helps with downpayment assistance and housing costs.
He said Healey has proposed an additional $50 million for that purpose so they are happy to see that.
Another strategy in the city’s housing plan is removing barriers to dwelling units that are under 900 square feet, such as a basement or attic attached to a home or a detached structure such as a garage that gets converted into an apartment.
He said these dwellings are popular among multigenerational families who may want to move a family member onto the property and are common in the city but the process to get them properly permitted has not always been so clear.
Weekly sales transactions: Renovated and expanded Dartmouth home sells for over $600K: What other homes sold for
He said Healey has proposed allowing people to build these dwelling units by right so they would need limited zoning and permitting approval, and some parking restrictions would be lifted. He said off-street parking is usually required and the project isn’t feasible.
Amaral said the changes to the city’s ordinances have not been drafted, but he thinks many of her proposals are in line with some of the city’s proposals and validates they are on the right track. He said it’s common across the country.
More proposed bond bill changes
He said he’s also excited about the proposed creation of a Momentum Fund in the bond bill that would allow the state greater flexibility to partner with developers to make projects successful with the state having a finance stake in a project.
He said in essence the state would be able to take equity positions and invest in housing developments, which is different than the way other programs work by making loans or grants to facilitate it all, and the funds would be really helpful to New Bedford.
“Any other flexible option will help us try to fit some of those hard-to-fund projects, smaller developments and developments with emerging developers that are sponsoring them,” he said.
He said the reaction to it has been resoundingly positive in the housing industries from the nonprofit side as well as the building trades and development communities.
Activists ask for more funding, fixes, to state-owned public housing
Massachusetts housing activists are vocal about the need to increase funding to ensure proper operation of state-owned complexes.
Kinga Borondy/ Telegram & Gazette, Telegram & Gazette
“Kudos to the governor for putting together an aggressive plan to tackle this problem statewide when there’s close to 200,000 units the state is short, and so we have to get to work preserving the housing that we have and building new housing,” he said.
He said New Bedford is well positioned to benefit from the changes and proposed changes in the bond bill that will go before the state legislature and may not be voted on until the summer at the end of the fiscal year.
“We will be following it closely and will be working with our legislative delegation to make sure that New Bedford’s voice is heard in the process,” he said.
Standard-Times staff writer Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.
State leaders look for new ways to improve living conditions in Western Massachusetts
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – State leaders are search for new ways to improve living conditions in Springfield and around Western Massachusetts.
State Representative Carlos Gonzales is having a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with the Baystate’s Health and Human Services Secretary to discuss how access to healthcare, social services, and community resources can aid those living condition improvements.
State and local leaders are hosting Secretary Kate Walsh with the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday to discuss how to improve living conditions in Springfield and the greater Western Massachusetts community.
“I think it’s important for the secretary to hear directly the different challenges that our hospitals are facing here in western Massachusetts, particularly here in Springfield,” explained Rep. Gonzalez. “As well as our public health agency leaders to get their perspective as to the best way to provide social services and health services.”
State Representative Carlos Gonzalez is spearheading the conversations and he told Western Mass News, local organizations can better communicate the problems in western Mass. communities and better utilize community resources.
“I think the specific issues are going to come from the public health leaders and hospital leaders,” added Rep. Gonzalez. “Those are different and unique conversations that will take place about what is it they’re seeing in western Mass. that may be unique, what challenges they’re facing and what strategies we can use to address those concerns when it comes to human services.”
Gonzalez said that perspective is key to finding comprehensive solutions to combat these issues at the state level.
Gonzalez told us the meeting between him, local health officials, and the health and human services secretary will be on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Copyright 2023. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.
MEDIA ADVISORY The Salvation Army’s Massachusetts Division to Host Annual Holiday Luncheon
BOSTON — The Salvation Army’s Massachusetts Division will host its annual holiday luncheon this week as the Division’s signature fundraising event honors those who have gone above and beyond to support The Salvation Army and its mission of helping others during this season when there is more need than ever.
San Francisco supervisor expected to introduce Gaza ceasefire resolution
Dallas should work to keep Mavericks in the city, council members say
3 airlifted to hospital after Miami Gardens crash possibly involving officer
Boston-based Dotmatics helping scientists make better drugs in less time using AI
Keeler: Deion Sanders, CU Buffs can do so much better than Pat Shurmur calling plays in 2024
Colorado Rockies game no. 116 thread: Zac Gallen vs José Ureña
See it: Tesla crashes into Columbus convention center at 70 mph
Fox News Politics: Georgia the whole day through
Death of missing Oregon girl found in stream ruled homicide
At least 2 dead as tornadoes hit Alabama, damage homes across Southeast
Gold bars stashed in Dem senator’s home recovered after 2013 violent robbery
Double-decker bus slams into tree in Thailand, killing 14
New rules on tourist flights seek to return some serenity to national parks
December deadlines: Things are a little different around Capitol Hill before the Christmas cutoff
‘Win-win’: UK set to return to key EU research programme on 1 January
Culture1 week ago
Finding a Moral Center in This Era of War
Technology1 week ago
The best Black Friday deals you can still get for under $25
Politics1 week ago
Trudeau blames ‘right-wing, American MAGA’ after Canadian Conservative Party votes against Ukraine bill
Movie Reviews1 week ago
‘Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé’ Review: An Intimate Yet Extravagant Exploration Of Beyoncé’s Latest World Tour
Movie Reviews1 week ago
Dream Scenario movie review: (un)likely boogeyman – FlickFilosopher.com
Politics1 week ago
Senator presses Army over backpay, religious freedoms for soldiers discharged for COVID vaccine refusal
Politics1 week ago
Biden tries to hide away in Nantucket but can’t escape pro-Palestinian protesters
Science7 days ago
Backlash to affirmative action hits pioneering maternal health program for Black women