Published October 1, 2020
CUB is pleased to announce that Governor Walz has declared October Energy Awareness Month in Minnesota. Celebrating Energy Awareness this time of year has become a CUB tradition.
Last year we encouraged people to think about how electricity we use is generated. This year we want to focus on issues of access and equity when it comes to energy. Energy plays a large role in our daily lives and it’s important to recognize that many Minnesota households struggle to pay their bills every month and experience or worry about getting shut-off. Energy costs can be significant for Minnesota households, and energy burden disproportionately impacts households that are low-income, renters, and/or Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The map shows the energy burden by city, county, and census tract. The average Minnesotan spends 2 percent of their income on energy, but there are enormous parts of rural Minnesota (and one census tract in Minneapolis) where Minnesotans spend over 5 percent of their income on energy.
A recent report published by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) addressed how these disparities are increasing as a result of the COVID-19 recession. High energy burden has been linked to respiratory illnesses, increased stress, and financial hardship. CUB is in partnership with communities and organizations across Minnesota tackling energy burden by identifying programs and policy changes to improve equity in energy issues. Strategies identified to help reduce household energy burden include implementing more weatherization, allocating more resources for weatherization, improving access to and promoting local utility programs, and improving energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency plays a vital part in managing our changing energy system by reducing the cost of energy for all. While Minnesota remains a national leader in transitioning to renewable resources, benefits from clean energy efforts have largely remained inaccessible for many of our communities. That’s why a clean energy transition must allow for equity in an energy system that currently disadvantages low-income consumers and communities of color.
Energy Awareness Month is a great time to highlight energy issues important to Minnesotans, but for CUB it’s really a year-long effort. We invite you to engage in these topics during Energy Awareness Month and beyond and to join us in our efforts to ensure all Minnesotans have equal access to clean, affordable energy. Visit our website to attend an energy related educational event and sign up for a free 30-minute virtual energy bills consultation.
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