NLIEC Releases Missouri Affordability Study
The National Low Income Energy Consortium (NLIEC) held its 18th annual low-income energy conference last week, highlighted by the release of a study that details the adverse impact of unaffordable energy costs on Missouri's poor.
The NLIEC commissioned the study, titled "Paid But Unaffordable: The Consequences of Energy Poverty in Missouri – and Elsewhere," to measure the extent and determine the consequences of energy poverty in Missouri because the lessons learned there can be applied throughout the nation. The state has both urban and rural areas, and it has energy hardships from both cold winters and hot summers.
Study author Roger Colton, who has conducted other energy affordability studies around the country, said at a press conference that focusing just on people's ability to pay their heating bills misses the full impact of the costs.
"What we found is that there is a large proportion of low-income households who pay their bills, but to pay their bills they go without other things," he said.
While a typical heating bill consumes about 6 percent of a middle-income family's budget, it represents 38 percent for the poorest households, the study shows. As a result, rising energy bills are a major contributor to poverty, Colton said, adding that the Missouri findings were typical of similar national studies.
Highlights of the NLIEC survey of 734 low-income households in Missouri are:
- 46 percent often or sometimes do without food to pay energy
- 60 percent often skip medical appointments to pay energy bills.
- More than half frequently or sometimes use a kitchen stove or
oven as a space heater.
- Nearly one in six households identified as "frequent movers"
cite energy costs as the main reason for their most recent move.
- Among the poorest households, 75 percent do not buy school books
or supplies so as to pay energy bills.
- 31 percent of the families leave home for all or part of day because they cannot afford to heat their houses; 38 percent leave because they cannot afford to cool their houses.
For an overview or a complete copy of the study, visit the NLIEC website.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, NLIEC