The energy flashpoint in last night's Mass. gov debate

National Grid says customers should expect to see their electricity bills rise this winter among a surge in natural gas prices. (Getty Images)
National Grid says customers should expect to see their electricity bills rise this winter among a surge in natural gas prices. (Getty Images)

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Hope you've already locked down those restaurant reservations; the Head of the Charles is back in town this weekend — and it's bigger than ever. That means traffic and crowds along the Charles River, as hundreds of thousands of spectators and rowers descend on the area.

We'll have more tips and things to watch for in this year's historic race in tomorrow morning's edition of the Weekender newsletter. But first the news:

Public schools in Haverhill are back open today, after a literal eleventh-hour deal last night to end the ongoing teachers strike before it entered a fifth day. While the tentative agreement still has to be ratified, the teachers union is celebreating the new contract as a "victory" for both them and other educators around the state.

However, because of the late hour of the deal, there will be no bus transportation to Haverhill schools today. As a result, officials sayd students will be allowed to report to class today whenever it works for their families and all absences will be excused.

Maura Healey and Geoff Diehl picked up where they left off last week, as the two Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates squared off in the final debate of the general election. WBUR's Anthony Brooks reports that — much like the first debate — the event focused on economy, abortion rights and whether the two candidates would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election. Both said they would accept the results, though Diehl, who has pushed Donald Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged, argued it was fair to question them.

One flashpoint: Diehl tried to pin soaring home energy bills on Healey, since she worked to block two natural gas pipelines he said would have brought cheaper energy to the state. "You have created your own war on energy in Massachusetts," he said.

Healey shot back that her efforts saved Massachusetts residents "billions," since the gas companies wanted to charge ratepayers to fund the projects. "I said, 'No, if you're going to build a pipeline, have your investors pay.' They chose not to," Healey said.

What's their plan for energy costs this winter? Healey said she supported the regional push to secure more federal fundings for low-income heating assistance programs. Diehl panned that program as "a federal bailout" and said the state should use its surplus revenue this year to "take care of this issue."

PSA: The state's two-week in-person early voting period begins tomorrow. You can look up your community's early voting location(s) and hours during the two-week period here.

The final big Green Line closure of the year (as far as we know) begins this weekend. For the third and final time this fall, the T is shutting down the Green Line's D branch for nine days for trackwork. That means shuttle buses will replace trolley service from Kenmore to Riverside from Saturday through Sunday, Oct, 30.

A shorter diversion is also hitting the Red Line's Ashmont branch this week (yes, also because of trackwork). Shuttles will be subbing in for train service between JFK/UMass and Ashmont for the entire day both Saturday and Sunday. At least they're free.

The MBTA is also beefing up its commuter rail service to Salem, as the city's Halloween festivities hit full gear. For the coming two weekends, the T will run about a half-dozen additional trains to and from Salem. You can check out the scary-good schedule here.

Salem officials say they've seen a record number of visitors this year (over a half million this month already) and they're urging people to do anything but try to drive downtown. And as Mayor Kim Driscoll said: “Visiting Salem is fun, but trying to find a place to park is not." Last weekend, they even sent out a press release saying that there were "no parking spaces available" in the city.

ICYMI: We put together a more in-depth guide to visiting Salem this month (including the places you should park if you drive) if an earlier edition of this newsletter. Give it a read here.

P.S.— Mass Audubon scientists are transplanting these to help suffering salt marshes. Do you know what they are? Then take our Boston News Quiz and test your knowledge of the local stories we covered this week.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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