People on fixed incomes are among the biggest beneficiaries from low-carbon initiatives like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, according to an analysis just released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Clean energy solutions like efficient appliances and wind and solar power are already helping seniors on fixed-incomes and low-income families save money and make their homes safer, more comfortable places to live,” writes NRDC’s Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. The Clean Power Plan “will spread these benefits to millions of Americans,” bringing home and business electricity bills down by an estimated 8% and saving customers $37.8 billion in 2020 alone.
“The poor and elderly already devote a large portion of their income to energy costs, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” says author Katharine McCormick. “The reliability of fossil fuels has been overstated. When we diversify our energy portfolio and invest in efficient and renewable sources like solar and wind, we help improve reliability, decrease our dependence on the market, and insulate people—especially the poor —from unpredictable coal and gas price spikes.”
While the average U.S. household pays 2.9% of its income for electricity, low-income households pay 8.3%, more when prices are volatile. As well, Casey-Lefkowitz writes, “people of colour and low-income families are more likely to live near conventional power plants, increasing the risk of respiratory illness and other health problems linked to pollution. These impacts are made worse for many people by existing health challenges, lack of access to medical care, and inequities in education, employment, and civil rights.”