Energy innovation is not just for the well-to-do
How Low-Income Households Can Take Advantage of Renewable Energy and EfficiencyBY MARLENE CIMONS -- GUEST CONTRIBUTOR, ClimateProgress
Monya’ (pronounced “Monet,” like the French artist) Chapman, 53, lives with her 77-year-old mother in a house she rents in West Baltimore, a neighborhood she describes as moderate- to low-income. She earns about $30,000 a year as a pharmacy technician, which, along with her mother’s monthly social security benefits, covers rent, food, and basic necessities like soap and toilet paper.
What often breaks her budget, however, is her monthly electric bill, an amount that can be staggering, sometimes as high as $350. “We budget well, but there still is not much left over to pay a $350 bill,” she said. “I have every intention of paying it, but sometimes I can’t because we have to eat.”
Chapman is not alone. A recent review of 48 major U.S. metropolitan areas released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that low-income households spent three times as much for energy as other higher income households, and that these expenditures are especially hard on African Americans and Latinos. Another analysis, conducted by Groundswell, determined that the toll for low-income families is even higher, that they spend as much as ten percent of their income on electricity, more than four times higher than the average consumer.