The Poor Pay More for Energy

Jul 29, 2020

As cities and states look for ways to provide more affordable housing, a non-profit in Charlottesville warns that energy costs must also be considered. The Community Climate Collaborative took a close look at what people pay for power.

Caetano de Campos Lopes is director of climate policy at the Community Climate Collaborative
Credit Community Climate Collaborative

At first glance, utility bills in Charlottesville seem reasonable.   Caetano de Campos Lopes says – on average – city residents spend less than 3% of their income to run appliances and to warm and cool their homes.

“Two point three percent of household incomes in general is allocated for home energy costs, but our report found that over 4,000 households in the city – almost one in every four households – face an energy burden of 10% or more.”

That’s because their income was low – a situation also seen in the nation’s capital.  There, the city provided support for low-income residents to join community solar projects.

“Here in Virginia community solar is known as shared solar and has been approved recently by the general assembly,” de Campos Lopes explains.

The Community Climate Collaborative says that approach could address  three important goals at once -- promoting renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cutting the cost of living for low-income residents. The group will share its findings with Virginia’s policymakers – urging them to consider energy costs as they plan for the future.

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