Half of U.S. Families Have Seen Energy Costs Nearly Double

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Date: 
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 

WASHINGTON D.C. – America’s working class and those on fixed-­‐‑ and lower-­‐‑incomes are suffering the most from increases in energy costs, according to a new study released today by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. The study finds that more than half of U.S. households will spend an average 20 percent of their family budget on energy, nearly double what they spent 13 years ago.

“While American families fight to secure their economic footing, new EPA regulations are adding to their burden with higher electricity and energy costs,” said Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “A typical American family is spending almost twice as much for energy today. For many families, high energy costs are now competing with other basic necessities such as food and health care.”

The annual assessment, “Energy Cost Impacts on American Families,” uses data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze energy cost increases since 2001 for U.S. households. Energy costs include transportation, home heating and cooling, and electricity.

The full study is available at: http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/Trisko%202013.pdf

Some of the findings include:

  • Energy costs are growing and eating up a disproportionate share of low-­‐‑ and fixed-­‐‑income families’ budgets. Nearly one-­‐‑third of U.S. households had annual incomes less than $30,000 in 2011. Energy costs in 2013 are projected to consume an average of 27% of their family budgets.
  • Minority families are burdened by higher energy costs. Due to income disparities, disproportionate numbers of Black and Hispanic families are more vulnerable to energy price increases than other families.
  • Lower-­‐‑ and fixed-­‐‑income senior households are among those most vulnerable to energy price increases. In 2011, the median pre-­‐‑tax income of senior households was approximately $33,000. Fixed-­‐‑income seniors are a growing segment of the U.S. population and are among the most vulnerable to energy cost increases due to their relatively low household incomes and their dependency on fixed incomes.
  • Electricity is the bargain among all consumer energy products. This is due, in part, to the utility industry’s reliance on affordable coal. Electricity rates have increased by 54% since 1990, less than the rate of inflation. Virtually all of the electricity rate increases over the past two decades have occurred since 2000, due in part to the costs associated with clean air and other environmental requirements.
  • EPA regulations drive up electricity prices. For example, the annual cost of compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule is approximately $10 billion per year. The projected annual cost of the MATS rule alone is greater than EPA’s estimate of the costs of all electric sector clean air requirements in 2010.