The coronavirus pandemic is already profoundly affecting our on a regular basis lives and our sense of safety – with important financial impacts. No household ought to ever have to decide on between paying an electrical invoice and placing meals on the desk.
George Cavros | March 19, 2020
No household ought to ever have to decide on between paying an electrical invoice and placing meals on the desk.
The coronavirus pandemic is already profoundly affecting our on a regular basis lives and our sense of safety. As the federal government responds to the unfold of an infection right here in Florida, and all through the nation, we’re all understandably anxious about our private well being and that of family members. But each within the quick and long run, the impacts of this disaster can be felt most profoundly by households struggling to make ends meet.
For the primary time ever, Americans are being referred to as upon to follow “social distancing,” which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as remaining out of locations the place individuals meet or collect. Public occasions and conferences are being canceled as state authorities and municipalities are closing down beaches and imposing restrictions on restaurants and bars to maintain residents protected from the virus.
To preserve the unfold of coronavirus in verify, individuals have been requested to largely stay at residence. More time at residence will invariably additionally imply larger energy use.
As companies shut their doorways to safeguard the general public well being, solely about one-third of the workforce is ready to work remotely, placing numerous staff vulnerable to having their work hours diminished or dropping their jobs. Cutbacks to the retail store workforce, restaurant and hospitality service staff, schooling aides, and janitorial staff (simply to call just a few) are already having ripple results throughout the economic system and straight impacting the lives of particular person households. Unfortunately, these impacts will fall disproportionately on low-earnings communities who can least afford it.
With diminished wages and better energy payments, the coronavirus disaster is compounding an already significant issue of excessive energy burdens in Florida, the place households are pressured into untenable tradeoffs between paying the energy invoice and buying important primary wants like meals and medication.
To preserve properties protected, comfy and safe, households should proceed to have entry to electrical energy to power their properties –– particularly as we head into the warmth of the summer time right here in Florida and the Southeast. Energy justice calls for each quick-time period reduction and long run motion.
Utilities suspending disconnections throughout disaster
To their credit score, numerous utilities within the Southeast are suspending disconnections for non-cost through the coronavirus disaster, a minimum of within the quick time period. You can discover out in case your utility has suspended disconnection through the disaster here because of the work of the Energy and Policy Institute – which is monitoring disconnection suspensions nationwide.
Investments wanted to cut back energy burden
While, the disconnect suspensions present a brief time period reprieve for households who’re struggling financially through the disaster, the issue of unaffordable energy payments goes a lot deeper. Florida already has among the many nation’s highest common month-to-month energy payments, largely because of a historic failure by its electrical utilities to adequately spend money on energy effectivity. As a end result, Florida’s working households, together with these residing month to month, are paying larger energy payments than prospects in states with considerably extra sturdy effectivity packages.
Without satisfactory utility energy effectivity packages, low-earnings households are the probably to lack the required info and monetary assets to make key effectivity investments of their properties, enhancements that would cut back energy use and lower your expenses on payments. With already excessive energy burdens inflicting monetary vulnerability and a low-earnings inhabitants totaling greater than 5 million individuals (36.8%) there’s a crucial want for significant energy financial savings objectives and sturdy effectivity packages going ahead – particularly packages designed to serve low-earnings households who’re most in want.
Much work stays
As reported in our current Energy Efficiency in the Southeast 2019 Annual Report, Florida is nicely beneath the nationwide common, and even the far decrease Southeast regional common, in offering energy financial savings for electrical prospects. And for low-earnings households, effectivity packages in Florida are barely scratching the surface. Effective effectivity packages sometimes present incentives for all the pieces from upgrading an AC unit, to including attic insulation or switching out inefficiency lighting, thereby serving to to make properties extra environment friendly and cozy whereas concurrently decreasing month-to-month electrical payments.
Fortunately, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) lately stopped the backsliding on state energy objectives by rejecting the power firms’ proposals to slash effectivity financial savings objectives to zero, or subsequent to zero. But there’s a lengthy approach to go for Florida’s arduous-working households to get the wanted utility funding in energy effectivity packages they should meaningfully cut back energy use and lower your expenses on payments.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is constant to work on rising the state’s energy financial savings objectives and getting Florida’s electrical utilities to supply prospects significant effectivity packages (in each scope and depth). This is very vital for low-earnings prospects impacted by the long run monetary penalties of the coronavirus disaster. That is why we are actually participating the PSC relating to the energy effectivity program plans simply filed by the state’s massive power firms – to make sure that nicely-crafted buyer packages are accepted by the Commission.
We’ll preserve you up to date on the persevering with efforts to cut back the energy burden within the Southeast. In the meantime, take the advisable CDC precautions through the pandemic and please keep protected throughout this making an attempt time.