Energy is a basic need, and many Americans are struggling to afford it in the COVID-19 recession
"The combination of rising energy use and falling incomes is likely to increase low-income households’ energy burdens – the proportion of their incomes they spend on energy. We expect that this trend will move a whole new population of households into energy insecurity. Some may try to cope without important energy uses, such as air conditioning, fans and refrigeration.
Federal and state governments can help. For example, Congress could pass legislation imposing a universal moratorium on utility shutoffs. And state regulators could prevent utilities from charging late and reconnection fees while the pandemic persists and people remain unemployed. Following a moratorium, regulators could also consider debt forgiveness as households recover.
Governments and organizations – public, private and nonprofit – can also offer bill assistance to vulnerable households and financial assistance to small businesses. One way would be to expand the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, or other financial assistance programs, such as unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, provided $900 million in supplemental funding for LIHEAP, but this only scratches the surface of what is needed."
-- Sanya Carly & David Konisky, Ohio Capital Journal