A new report compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity has revealed that the number of households having their electricity disconnected by power companies due to their inability to pay soared between 2021 and 2022.
See below the executive summary of this report.
- Utilities cut off power to households more than 1.5 million times from January through October 2022 in the 30 states and Washington, D.C., where data was available.
- Extrapolating the rate of customers disconnected across all 50 states, we estimate 4.2 million household disconnections occurred across the country in the first 10 months of 2022.
- The shutoffs crisis is growing. We found a 29% increase in power disconnections and a 76% increase in gas disconnections in the first 10 months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, among power utilities and a subset of gas utilities providing data.
- A dozen companies perpetrated 86% of the shutoffs documented from 2020 through October 2022. Just 1% of their spending on dividends for shareholders could have prevented all their documented power shutoffs over that period.
- Those same companies spent $2.8 billion paying about 70 top executives in the three years beginning in 2019 — about $5.9 million per executive per year.
- By continuing to invest in fossil gas and infrastructure, ignoring price volatility, utilities are driving energy insecurity and shutoffs, particularly for households of color. Electricity prices are up about 12% since 2021, driven by the Russian war in Ukraine, utilities’ reliance on fossil gas for power generation, and their ability to pass rising fuel costs directly on to customers. This economic precarity hit particularly hurts people of color; 1 in 3 families couldn’t afford at least one energy bill last year.
- The scale of the shutoffs problem is masked by a widespread failure of transparency, with state regulators in nearly 40% of states failing to require any disclosures. Most notably, Florida stopped providing data in late 2021, leading to an apparent (but misleading) decrease in the number of shutoffs documented in 2022. Florida Power & Light imposed the most shutoffs — nearly 1 million — from 2020 through 2021.
- There are many steps federal and state lawmakers, and regulators can take to tackle the chronic disconnections problem. We provide the most comprehensive policy blueprint to date of what they can do — from banning utility shutoffs to transforming the unaccountable, dirty utility system.
The harm is real and self-evident, as are the solutions. Leading the way among states who report such data is Illinois, whose main electricity providers shut down power for nearly 300,000 households between January and October 2022, a massive increase over the previous year. See below the top ten states that are experiencing these cut-offs.
Seven utility parent companies in nine states and D.C. perpetrated nearly 70% of the shutoffs documented in 2022. They increased disconnections collectively by more than 22% over the same period in 2021: Exelon Corp. (31% increase), Southern Company (5% increase), DTE Energy (16% increase), Ameren Corp (10% increase), First Energy Corp. (20% increase), PPL Corp. (139% increase), and American Electric Power Co Inc (7% increase). See this in the table below.
When utility bills go unpaid, it is because people are making difficult choices about where to put their limited money. The less income a family has, the higher the percentage that goes to fixed bills like energy, housing, and internet. As energy prices rise, energy bills consume an even greater share of families’ earnings – known as the energy burden.
As the world ramps up for a Ukrainian Armageddon, no doubt this will put even more pressure on energy prices, leading to higher consumer utility bills and ultimately forcing even more utility disconnections. After President Joe Biden gave us 40-year high inflation – many get ready to have the power cut.
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RWR original article syndication source.