More than 18 percent of Maryland households are burdened by high energy bills: Report

More than 18 percent of Maryland households are burdened by high energy bills

The energy cost burden (ECB) of households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Approximately 50,000 households with burden >6 percent and income >200 percent FPL are not shown. Credit: Affordable Energy in Maryland (2023).

According to a new report by researchers from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and PSE Healthy Energy (PSE), about 400,000 households in Maryland and nearly 30% of Baltimore residents pay more than 6% of their income. their entry for energy bills. .

“Income inequality is a major driver of the energy cost burden in Maryland. Short-income Households often pay a significantly larger share of their incomes for energy, creating unrealizable choices between paying for necessities, such as rent and food. , and the fuel needed to heat the house,” lead author of the report, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, IEER President.

“In the City of Baltimore, there are approximately 7,000 evictions and 150,000 eviction notices each year—more than one for every low-income tenant. Nationally, nearly 5% of households receiving heating bill assistance lose their home each year due to such financial stresses. ”

The researchers used publicly available data to estimate the percentage of income spent on household energy needs (known as energy cost burden) and map out strategies strategy to increase energy affordability, while reducing emissions that are harmful to health and the climate.

They found that about 400,000 households in Maryland had high electricity bills—in excess of six percent of their income. For 170,000 lower-income Maryland residents federal poverty level ($26,500 for a family of four), the average energy cost burden is about 20 percent of income.

“Annual energy bills put a strain on budgets across Maryland, although some communities struggle more than others,” said Yunus Kinkhabwala, a clean energy scientist with PSE Healthy Energy. other copper. “Areas where the typical energy cost burden is greater than 9% are largely located in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods in urban areas like Baltimore and more countryside such as the East Coast, where average annual energy bills often exceed $3,200 due to dependence on expensive fuel oil and propane and inefficient homes.”

The researchers estimate that the total amount of annual bill support needed to bring energy bill less than six percent of income—considered affordable—approximately $400 million, much higher than the $120 million available through state assistance programs. Nearly $40 million of this energy affordability gap comes from additional charges from third-party electricity and nature Air provider.

While Maryland’s ambitious climate goals mean virtually eliminating natural gas in residential building Through 2045, natural gas investments under Maryland’s Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement Act (STRIDE) could continue to appreciate in the coming decades.

Dr. Makhijani said: “Continuing investment in natural gas infrastructure is at odds with Maryland’s 2022 climate law; Households stuck with gas could see a 10x price increase by 2045.” “Maryland could instead invest in shifting low-income residents to cleaner, safer, and cheaper alternatives—a strategy that would save approximately $8 billion in bill assistance in the rest of this century.”

Moving away from natural gas would also benefit public health. Natural gas heating, water heating, and cooking appliances in residential spaces emit combustion-related air pollutants that have been linked to a variety of adverse cardiovascular health effects. and respiratory, including asthma. Exposure to combustion-related pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has been linked to worsening asthma symptoms, and Baltimore City households that have replaced gas stoves with electric ones have significantly reduced NO levels in their homes.2 concentration.

“Baltimore City residents have higher rates of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and asthma-related deaths than the average for the city,” said Lee Ann Hill, director of energy and health at PSE Healthy Energy. state. “Eliminating fossil fuels, especially in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, will improve both indoor and outdoor air quality, while protecting public health.”

The report analyzes strategies to help reduce affordability, public healthand the climate ramifications of Maryland’s residential energy system. These include simplifying Maryland’s bill-assistance application process, barring third-party electricity providers from charging higher rates than Standard Preferred Service for low-income households.

When support is complemented by home efficiency, electrification, reduced price community solar, and demand response initiatives, the $400 million annual affordability gap will narrow. $80 million left—significantly less than the current $120 million per year fundraiser—in addition to meeting decarbonization targets.

Federal and local programs such as the Weather Resilience Assistance Program (WAP) and Maryland’s efficiency program reach only about one percent of eligible households each year, however, the Act The 2022 federal inflation reduction provides substantial additional funds that could help expand these programs.

More information:
Report: … ability-in-maryland/

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quote: More than 18 percent of Maryland households are burdened by high energy bills: Report (2023, February 22) retrieved February 22, 2023 from 2023-02-percent-maryland-households-burdened-high. html

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