Saturday, September 25, 2021

Play

New Yorkers voice concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional and state voting districts; and providers ask the Supreme Court to act on Texas' new abortion law.

Play

The January 6th committee subpoenas former Trump officials; a Senate showdown looms over the debt ceiling; the CDC okays COVID boosters for seniors; and advocates testify about scams targeting the elderly.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Pandemic Spotlights Opportunities for Utility Equity in Colorado

Play

Wednesday, May 12, 2021   

DENVER -- The number of Coloradans who need help to keep the power on in their homes rose dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, and energy experts say lessons learned could help utility companies, policymakers and government agencies address longstanding inequities.

Jennifer Gremmert, executive director of Energy Outreach Colorado, said COVID-19 put a spotlight on the economic fragility of communities of color and low-income families, including front-line workers praised for their efforts in hospitals and grocery stores.

"And what we saw as a result of the pandemic was that so many people were really living on the edge, that were one crisis away from not being able to afford their energy bills," Gremmert recounted. "We also saw a disproportionate amount of minorities that needed this assistance."

When thousands lost jobs, or were forced to leave the workforce to care for children when schools closed, many families had to make difficult decisions.

Gremmert noted her group's toll-free assistance hotline received more than 250,000 calls for assistance during the past year. The group paid more than 25,000 past-due utility bills, a 46% increase over the previous year.

Gremmert emphasized we're not out of the dark yet, pointing to the Great Recession, from which it took years for low-wage workers to recover.

Even before the pandemic, one in four Colorado households struggled to pay their energy bills, and Gremmert argued now is the time to make systemic changes.

She suggested steps should be taken by utility companies, lawmakers, government agencies and nonprofits to ensure families most at risk can access payment assistance, and replace broken furnaces and ceiling fans.

"But also just a fundamental belief that we have to help our neighbors in need," Gremmert urged. "And it may not be for a long period of time, but it's to make sure that they can be healthy participants in our communities."

Gremmert pointed out removing barriers, including bureaucratic red tape, will help more people from getting their power cut off.

Next, she stressed investments in energy efficiency for low-income housing units can help lower monthly utility bills. She added new energy policies, as the nation shifts away from climate-polluting sources, need to include the state's most vulnerable families.

Disclosure: Energy Outreach Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, and Housing/Homelessness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …


Social Issues

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …

Social Issues

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…


According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people age 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …

Social Issues

CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …

Arkansas farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …

Social Issues

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A New Mexico legislator is optimistic a bill will pass in the 2022 session to prohibit life sentences for juveniles convicted of …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021