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Immersive Exhibit at Union Station Spotlights Energy Poverty

One in four households struggles with a high energy burden or energy poverty. (Pxfuel)
One in four households struggles with a high energy burden or energy poverty. (Pxfuel)
February 24, 2020

DENVER -- A new exhibit on display this Thursday at Union Station, called "Behind These Walls" invites the public to experience energy poverty first hand.

Visitors will be able to enter a home where the power has been turned off because the utility bill did not get paid.

Jennifer Gremmert, executive director of the advocacy group Energy Outreach Colorado, says for too many families, the walls of their home shield others from knowing or understanding the true burden of energy insecurity.

"So many of us take it for granted," she states. "And so imagining what it's like not to have it, and then to know that that could be the person living next door to you, or down the street from you that needs that help."

Gremmert says visitors also will see the consequences of living in a home without power. Health conditions can be exacerbated, whether in colder winter temperatures or extreme summer heat.

Without lights, children can't do homework and clothes go unwashed.

Visitors also can learn how to connect neighbors with help paying their utility bills through EnergyOutreach.org.

Across Colorado, tens of thousands of families with children, the elderly, teachers, students and people with disabilities and health concerns qualify for assistance to cover basic home energy costs.

For many households, utility bills are just a small fraction of their monthly income, but Gremmert says that's not the case for many of her group's clients.

"Some of them, they're paying up to 25% of their income on their energy bill," she points out. "So that's what we really want people thinking about, that inability to pay, or having to do without food or medicine because you're having to pay that bill that month."

The immersive exhibit is free and open to the public, and will take place on the south end of Denver's Union Station Plaza from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday.

Disclosure: Energy Outreach Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Housing/Homelessness, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO