Perspective from Cooperative Power
Keith Dennis is Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. He previously worked at the U.S. Department of Energy and White House Council on Environmental Quality, and in the private sector as a third-party verifier of energy projects. At NRECA, he addresses key energy efficiency issues in industry forums and political arenas on behalf of NRECA’s nine hundred national electric co-op members and their forty-two million customers.
Consumers with low household incomes bear the heaviest burden of energy costs, yet are those who can least afford them.
Traditional energy efficiency programs remain an important and essential way to save consumers money while improving health and the environment. However, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, traditional conservation programs targeted to low-income households cost more, at 14.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, as opposed to an average of 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour across all sectors.
This data begs the question: Is there a better way to reduce energy costs for low-income households while making progress towards environmental goals?
Research suggests the answer may lie with new, strategic uses of electricity, known as beneficial electrification.
There is an increasingly strong agreement that in order to meet aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, vast numbers of consumers will need to switch from directly using fossil fuels (like fuel oil, gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas) to electricity, which can be a low greenhouse gas power resource thanks to renewable energy and nuclear energy.