An Inclusive Energy Transition: Expanding Low-Income Access to Clean Energy Programs

June 13, 2017

An array of new state policies and declining costs for clean energy technologies have opened electricity markets to many new participants, including electric utilities’ own customers. Most low- income customers, however, lack the resources to access these markets. Indeed, low-income customers already face disproportionately high energy and transportation burdens. Regulators and utilities have expressed concerns that these burdens will only increase due to the loss of cross-subsidies provided through traditional electricity rate structures. Rather than develop effective strategies to protect low-income ratepayers and facilitate their participation in clean energy markets, several states have either enacted reactionary policies that disincentive all customer classes from participating or pursue limited programs, such as community solar programs, that will provide few benefits to low-income households. This paper argues that states should develop and fund comprehensive programs to ensure that low- income households can participate in and benefit from the clean energy transition.