skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Summer Heat Brings Little Relief for High Utility Bills

play audio
Play

Wednesday, July 5, 2023   

The same families who had to apply for emergency assistance when heating bills skyrocketed this past winter could face similar challenges this summer, especially if they need to run their air conditioners during peak hours between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Denise Stepto, chief communications officer for Energy Outreach Colorado, said keeping homes cool when temperatures spike is just as important as staying warm when it is freezing outside.

"We know from a health perspective that being too hot in your home, particularly for households with children, or older people, or people with disabilities, this is very unhealthy," Stepto explained.

A spike in natural gas prices this past winter saw Colorado energy bills double and even triple, making payments extremely difficult for low-wage workers and people living on fixed incomes. Energy Outreach Colorado's Bill Payment Assistance program saw a 21% increase in applicants for assistance over the previous year. The group paid 55%, or $4.5 million more than last year, on past-due bills.

Xcel Energy blamed rising natural gas costs for high utility bills, yet the company's gross profits in 2022 were 10% higher than the previous year at $8.3 billion. Colorado lawmakers responded by passing legislation to limit some of the costs utilities can pass along to customers, but Stepto argued more needs to be done to address volatile utility bills across the state.

"There was attention, and I think we've heard lawmakers actually say 'we have to start addressing the issue,'" Stepto recounted. "It's the beginning, and hopefully it will continue."

Stepto added many families are still trying to pay down their winter bills, and she worries people facing difficult choices could put themselves at risk by turning off fans or air conditioners.

"They're making dangerous choices in their home," Stepto emphasized. "They're juggling, whether I pay my utility bill, or do I buy food, do I buy my medication, do I pay my rent?"

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


get more stories like this via email
more stories
A $1 minimum wage increase could reduce suicides among those with a high school education or less by nearly 6%, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. (SpaceOak/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

In response to an alarmingly high number of suicides among construction workers, Michigan's construction leaders have taken measures to tackle mental …


Environment

play sound

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $271,000 in grants for environmental education projects across the state. The programs will …

play sound

Major League Baseball's All-Star week kicks off tonight at Globe Life Field in Arlington with the Swingman Classic featuring 50 student athletes from …


Along with extreme temperatures and public health-related states of emergency, a new Virginia law prevents utility shutoffs on Fridays, weekends and the day before or during state holidays. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

A new Virginia law protects residents from utility shutoffs in extreme weather. The law prevents utility company shutoffs when temperatures are at …

Social Issues

play sound

Minnesotans this month have a chance to share their thoughts on how the state should distribute home energy rebates. With federal incentives coming …

Diminishing snowpack in northern New Mexico due to climate change will shorten the season for skiing and other forms of winter tourism and recreation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (RaisaNastukova/AdobeStock)

Social Issues

play sound

New Mexico teachers educating young people about climate change don't want them to feel hopeless - and they've developed an educational curriculum to …

play sound

New Yorkers could see detrimental impacts from a proposed federal budget. The Republican Study Committee's proposed 2025 budget calls for sweeping …

Social Issues

play sound

Fifth Third Bank just agreed to pay a $20 million fine to settle charges it forced car buyers to purchase unnecessary insurance and created fake accou…

 

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