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Improving Access to Clean Energy Technologies Would Reduce Low-Income Household Energy Burden, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Hearing Concludes

U.S. House Energy Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. is Working to Increase Clean Energy Access in Order to Reduce Energy Burdens on Low-Income Households

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee held a  hearing on ensuring vulnerable communities have access to clean, affordable energy.  The October 1, 2020 hearing was entitled, “Generating Equity: Improving Clean Energy Access and Affordability.”

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) explained that recent survey found that 25 percent of all U.S. households face a high energy burden, and half of those face a severe energy burden.  Startlingly, nearly two-thirds of low-income households, or nearly 26 million households, face a high energy burden.

“Energy burden” is defined as the percentage of household income spent on energy bills.  High energy burden, which according to some experts means a household pays six or more percent of its income on energy bills, and severe energy burden, where a household pays more than ten percent of income on energy, are persistent challenges in the U.S.

“Given these circumstances, we must improve access to clean energy technologies and the affordability of their benefits within frontline communities to lower electricity bills, improve air quality, and reduce energy insecurity,” Chairman Pallone Jr. explained.

“It’s well-established that communities of color, low-income communities and other vulnerable populations are disproportionately exposed to pollution, often because their neighborhood’s only source of energy generation is fossil fuels,” he continued. “We simply cannot allow the negative health impacts of pollution to continue to disproportionately fall on our most vulnerable Americans, so we must talk seriously about how to get cleaner sources of energy to these communities.  Enacting policies that deliver them clean energy generation would not only improve public health, but would also lower vulnerable communities’ energy bills – a win-win they both desperately need and deserve.”

Additional information for this hearing, including the Committee Memorandum, testimony and the webcast replay are posted HERE.

A list of witnesses who testified and hyperlinks to their prepared remarks is below:


Ariel Drehobl
Senior Research Associate, Local Policy
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy



Tony G. Reames, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School for Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan



Robert Bryce
Visiting Fellow
The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity



Alexandra M. Wyatt
Policy and Regulatory Manager
GRID Alternatives