Hispanics Struggling With Increasing Energy Prices

More than half of U.S. families have seen energy costs nearly double in last ten years.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hispanics have been hit the hardest by energy price increases, according to a new study today released by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.  The study found that more than half of American families have seen their energy costs nearly double in the past ten years.  Due to income inequalities, Hispanic households are disproportionately impacted by these rising energy costs, which reduce the amount of income that can be spent on food, housing, health care and other necessities.

In 2010, 62 percent of Hispanic households had average annual incomes below $50,000, compared with 46 percent of Anglo households.  Lower-income families are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets.  Energy is consuming one-fifth or more of the household incomes of lower- and middle-income families

"Hispanics are spending more of their family budget on energy costs, while at the same time the community is facing high unemployment and greater poverty levels," said Evan Tracey, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. "For millions of Americans living on low and fixed incomes, surging energy prices mean less money for other necessities such as food, housing and health care.  EPA continues to drive up energy prices, which are hurting Hispanics and all American families."

The annual assessment "Energy Cost Impacts of American Families" uses data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze energy cost increases since 2001 for U.S. households. The findings are particularly timely, in light of EPA's newly finalized Utility MACT rule that, when combined with other pending EPA regulations, could increase electricity rates by over 23 percent in some areas of the United States that rely on coal for electricity. 

The full study, "Energy Cost Impacts of American Families," written by environmental attorney and energy economist Eugene M. Trisko for ACCCE, is available at http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/Energy_Cost_Impacts_2012_FINAL.pdf.

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • Energy costs are growing and eating up a disproportionate share of low and fixed-income families' budgets. The 60 million households that earn less than $50,000 per year, or 50 percent of U.S. families, will devote an estimated 21 percent of their after-tax incomes to energy, compared to 12 percent spent in 2001.
  • The number of people in poverty in 2010 was the largest in over 50 years – 15.1 percent, up for the third year in a row. Twenty-seven percent of Blacks and 26 percent of Hispanics were living in poverty in 2010.
  • Lower-income senior households that depend mainly on fixed incomes are among those most vulnerable to energy price increases. Food, health care and other necessities compete with energy for a share of the household budget. The $31,408 median income of senior U.S. households means that half of these households depend on incomes below this level.
  • Because the electric utility industry relies on coal, electricity is the bargain among all consumer energy products. Electricity prices have increased by 51 percent in nominal dollars since 1990, while the nominal prices of residential natural gas and gasoline have nearly doubled and tripled, respectively.
  • Government regulations are responsible for most of the increase in electricity prices. Virtually all of the residential electricity price increases over the past two decades have occurred since 2000.  These increases are due in part to additional capital, operating and maintenance costs associated with meeting clean air and other environmental standards.

About ACCCE

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership of companies involved in producing electricity from coal. ACCCE supports energy policies that balance coal's vital role in meeting our country's growing need for affordable and reliable electricity with the need to protect the environment. ACCCE also advocates for the development and deployment of advanced clean coal technologies that will produce electricity with near-zero emissions.

For more information, visit www.cleancoalusa.org or www.americaspower.org.

SOURCE American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity



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