12.15.2020

In the Giving Season, Remember That Not Everyone Can Afford Costly Energy

By David Holt

The holiday season is a time of giving and sharing, something parents often remind their children. It’s also a time to be thankful, even during a demoralizing and dangerous pandemic.

American families this yuletide season can count their blessings.  

For many, despite the economic struggle from COVID-related government shutdowns, good fortune includes having enough money to avoid deciding whether to pay for groceries and gifts or the energy bill. We’re also fortunate that energy in the United States remains the most affordable and available in the world.

This isn’t the case for every family, however. Right now, nearly 19 million Americans could be evicted from their homes at year’s end, and another 12 million are set to lose jobless benefits. One in five households has had to cut back or cut out essentials like food and medicine to pay an energy bill, recent Energy Information Administration statistics show.

This in an advanced nation with affordable and abundant energy, where environmental progress is a high priority. It’s a little-known fact that the U.S. leads the world year after year in reducing emissions. This feat reflects stringent environmental standards that shrink our emissions even as we produce more oil and gas than any nation and rank as the second-biggest renewable-energy producer.

We must continue to add more energy to our mix and ensure that energy from every source is produced in the cleanest, most environmentally responsible manner. But some well-meaning supporters of this important goal, overlooking the environmental gains already underway, favor limiting our energy choices. In doing so, they inadvertently hurt those who can’t take on the added costs.Promoted Content

Sure, a few of us can afford to pay a significantly higher energy bill. But many others cannot. Some state legislatures and governors are unnecessarily limiting consumer choice for energy – raising costs for families, small businesses, and farmers who already struggle to afford it. Energy bills are like a hidden tax on everyone’s disposable income, and they hurt those with lower incomes the most. We should all have access to reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy. 

As a New Year’s resolution, let’s examine how untested government programs and policies affect the less fortunate, including seniors and those struggling with low or fixed incomes. Think of the shocking number of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. Depending on the survey, it ranges from half of workers making under $50,000 annually to three-quarters of all employees. Nearly three in ten said in July 2019 that they had no emergency savings; that percentage is almost certainly higher now. 

So, this holiday season, let’s give thanks for our good fortune and our blessings, whatever they may be. But let’s also lend our voices on behalf of those who cannot afford to pay higher energy bills – by demanding reasonable and fair energy policies that will achieve our environmental goals without harming our most vulnerable citizens. As 2021 dawns, let’s urge our leaders to adopt the giving spirit by favoring the needs of the least among us.  

David Holt is president of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), the leading U.S. consumer advocate in support of affordable reliable energy for working families, seniors, and businesses across the country.

This article appeared on the RealClearEnergy website at https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2020/12/15/in_the_giving_season_remember_that_not_everyone_can_afford_costly_energy_653293.html

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