Energy Equity Alliance Files Comments to Be Discussed during FTC Workshop on Consumer Protection

The Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) filed a letter with comments to be considered during The Federal Trade Commission’s one-day workshop which will be held on June 21, 2016, at the Constitution Center in Washington, DC.

The workshop will explore “competition and consumer protection issues that may arise when consumers generate their own electric power by installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels – a practice known as solar distributed generation (DG)” and will specifically discuss:
The current state of the solar power industry, and anticipated technological advancements;
Current regulatory approaches to compensating consumers for the power they generate, with a particular focus on net metering laws and regulations;
Competition among solar DG firms, between solar DG firms and regulated utilities, and between solar generation and other power generation technologies; and
Consumer protection issues, including how consumers get the information necessary to decide whether to install solar PV panels.

In its comments EEA urged the FTC to address issues related to distributed generation (DG) rate setting polices and consumer protection issues to ensure that low-income and historically underserved customers are not unfairly burdened by the rate making process or new rate design proposals that benefit wealthier segments of the public. EEA also stressed the need for regulators to protect consumers who purchase or lease solar units, from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices.

EEA supports a diverse supply of safe and reliable electricity and electric rates that are fair and affordable for all customers. EEA is asking that regulators safeguard consumers and provide appropriate education and enforceable protection against unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices.

Read EEA’s letter to the Federal Trade Commission in full here.

Energy Equity Alliance Among Organizations Commending Senate Leadership on Bipartisan Energy Bill

February 2, 2016
Washington, D.C. – The Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) joined a broad group of organizations representing the nation’s low income electricity consumers in commending Senators Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell for their leadership in producing a bipartisan energy bill and urging the U.S. Senate to stand up for historically underrepresented consumers by opposing the King-Reid amendment.

“We are closely following the Senate floor debate on this bill, and we are concerned that an amendment offered by Senators Angus King and Harry Reid would unfairly harm those in historically low-income and minority communities,” stated the group which in addition to EEA includes National Black Caucus of State Legislators, World Conference of Mayors, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanics in Energy, The Latino Coalition, National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women and National Policy Alliance.

To read the letter in its entirety click here.

Energy Equity Alliance Applauds White House Efforts to Launch Solar for Low-Income Areas

July 7, 2015
Washington, D.C. – The Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) supports President Obama administration’s launch of initiatives and investment commitments to promote solar power to low- and moderate-income Americans.

As an organization focused on energy policies affecting low-income and minority consumers, EEA has long shared the belief that solar power has been out of reach to many households and welcome these steps to addressing that concern.

The actions introduced by the administration should not only increase solar penetration, but also further create incentives that will help to reduce our carbon footprint.

In addition, we are optimistic about the prospect of what this investment could mean to the job market and the announced partnerships that will provide job training to low-income workers looking to take up solar work and new diversity commitments.

As EEA continues its efforts to ensure that energy efficiency programs are non-discriminatory and equitable, we look forward to working with the administration on addressing our remaining concerns including cost shift issues that will continue to plague low-income communities if not addressed.

Energy Equity Alliance Releases Report On LIHEAP’s Impact on America’s Communities of Color

April 9, 2015
Washington, D.C. – On April 8, 2015, the Energy Equity Alliance (EEA), an organization chaired by former Florida State Representative Hon. Joe Gibbons, released a detailed report titled LIHEAP: Impact on Communities of Color, which discusses the need for continued support and growth of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP assists low-income families with meeting home heating energy needs. It provides federally funded assistance in managing costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, and weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the national poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent; thus 45.3 million people in the United States live in poverty. The proportion of those living in poverty is disproportionately greater within communities of color. The poverty rate for African Americans is roughly 25.8 percent, followed closely by Hispanics at 23.2 percent.

LIHEAP funding is far below the level needed to meet the most fundamental emergency needs for those who are desperately poor.

“Because the number of households eligible for LIHEAP is far greater than those able to be served, taking action to advocate for LIHEAP funding and ensure the continued effectiveness of the program is vital to the people and families of these communities” Gibbons said. “Given that appropriations for LIHEAP only fund a portion of the need, far too many low income families must choose between heating their homes or having food on the table.”

EEA’s paper addresses these issues of income disparities, the home energy burden and LIHEAP eligibility, and concludes with a call to action.

Energy Equity Alliance Applauds White House Announcement on Driving Clean Energy Adoption and Job Growth

April 8, 2015
Washington, D.C. – The Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) supports the President’s commitment to address climate change and create jobs by “spurring the deployment of clean sources of energy,” as described in the April 3, 2015, White House press release, “FACT SHEET: Administration Announces Actions To Drive Growth In Solar Energy And Train Workers For Clean-Energy Jobs.”

As an organization focused on energy policies affecting low-income and minority consumers, EEA stands beside the President and applauds his efforts as he provides direction to invest in energy research and innovation.

The actions and goals discussed in the release should not only help create jobs for many of those who are struggling to pay their monthly energy bills, but will help reduce our carbon footprint.

Along with the press release, the President’s scheduled announcement from Hill Air Force Base should reiterate his goal to educate and train over 75,000 workers in the solar industry, with a strong focus on preparing veterans for careers as installers, system inspectors, and other jobs in solar.

As EEA continues its efforts to ensure that energy efficiency programs are non-discriminatory and equitable, we share in the President’s vision of a more energy efficient America, and envision practical and fair policies that aid in his energy-focused goals.

Energy Equity Alliance Statement on President Obama’s LIHEAP FY 2016 Budget Request

March 9, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Millions of households across America are dealing with energy insecurity. President Barack Obama’s recent Fiscal Year 2016 budget submission included a $3.39 billion recommendation for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – a program geared towards providing assistance to families struggling to keep up with rising energy costs. The Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) strongly encourages the members of the U.S. House and Senate Budget Committees to increase LIHEAP funding to no less than $5.1 billion in its upcoming budget resolution to ensure greater protections for low and fixed-income households struggling to pay their energy bills.

While President Obama has been a long proponent of LIHEAP and its effort to help struggling families keep the lights on, the funding level that has been proposed is simply not enough to meet current demand for this program. Since its establishment in 1981, LIHEAP has become a vital program for the survival of low and fixed-income households. Data shows that these households already spend an exorbitant amount of their monthly income on energy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that households with after-tax earnings between $5,000 and $10,000 spend 27 percent of their income on energy utilities and fuels, including gas and oil for their automobiles.

Compared to its peak FY 2009 funding level, LIHEAP has become a woefully underfunded program. Currently, only 20 percent of households who desperately need and request LIHEAP funds actually receive assistance.

Former Florida State Representative and Chairman of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL) Committee on Energy, Transportation and Environment, Hon. Joe Gibbons, states: “We cannot go another year leaving our most vulnerable populations – children, the elderly, disabled citizens, and working class adults – out in the cold.” The EEA Chairman added: “Our nation’s leaders should make restoring LIHEAP to its peak level one of its highest priorities from here on out.” As members of the U.S. House and Senate confer the FY 2016 budget, EEA urges members to allocate the funds necessary to realistically and successfully meet current LIHEAP demand and ensure energy security for all Americans.