Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

Guest Blog | March 19, 2015 | Energy Justice, Energy Policy
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been working to highlight the benefits offered by clean energy resources to vulnerable communities.  In a new set of fact sheets, NRDC lays out how the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan offers serious benefits to low-income and fixed-income households.  Although the fossil fuel industry and its allies insist that cutting carbon emission from our nation’s power sector will increase energy costs, the truth is that a transition to a cleaner energy future can potentially save Americans an average of 8% off their utility bills.  For the average customer, that 8% in savings translates to annual savings of around $100.  These savings are critically important for low- and fixed-income families who spend a much higher percentage of their income on energy costs.  

As outlined in the fact sheets, seniors and low-income families living in both urban and rural areas stand to benefit from implementation of the Clean Power Plan.  Below, we highlight some of the important points brought up in each fact sheet.

Clean Energy Brings Savings and Jobs to Rural, Low-Income America

  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17.7% of rural families live below the poverty line, compared with 14.5% in the rest of the country.
  • Rural communities are often served by electric cooperatives, which often need to spread the costs of maintaining transmission lines among fewer customers – resulting in higher than average electricity rates.
  • Promoting investment in energy efficiency through the Clean Power Plan, including more efficient insulation, lighting and appliances, can  help rural families lower energy costs without sacrificing comfort.
  • Wind farms can bring revitalization to rural areas by providing lease payments to farmers who own the land where the wind turbines are located and creating jobs that will bring more people to the area, resulting in added revenue for hotels, restaurants and rental properties in the area.

 Clean Energy Packs Savings for Seniors

  • Retirees face budgetary constraints that can affect their ability to pay utility bills, making access to robust energy efficiency measures all the more important.
  • Although costly up-front investments have hindered deployment of solar in the past, but community solar power that pools resources of multiple community members allows people to purchase as little or as much renewable energy as they wish.
  • Seniors are more vulnerable than others to the negative health effects from air pollution.  As more coal plants come offline, seniors will experience decreased exposure to harmful air pollution that contribute to health problems like heart attacks, cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Clean Energy Brings Jobs and Savings to Low-Income, Urban Communities

  • Low-income, urban communities are more likely to be located near power plants, dramatically increasing the risk of more direct health impacts from pollution.
  • Nearly half of very low-income renters live in multifamily housing.  Existing energy efficiency initiatives aimed at multifamily housing have reduce household energy use by 15-30% and, if fully deployed, such improvements could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion every year.
  • Community solar projects can be placed in repurposed toxic, abandoned or blighted spaces or on large, well-situation rooftops – offering rehabilitation opportunities of existing neighborhoods and buildings.
  • Increased development of clean energy resources will create additional opportunities for employment and result in a significant number of local jobs that cannot be exported.  The typical wage for an employee in the clean energy industry is $44,000, 13% higher than the typical national wage.

NRDC will release a full report on how the Clean Power Plan can help vulnerable communities in April, so stay tuned!

Guest Blog
My Profile