Access to affordable electricity, heating and cooling fuels, water and telecommunications services are essential necessities for modern life. Loss of energy and utility services can jeopardize the health and safety of the household, as well as their access to housing itself. Vulnerable low-income households already face dire choices between paying for energy and utility services and other necessities such as food, healthcare and medications. Rising energy and utility prices can be devastating to a family that is already just barely making ends meet. NCLC had a long history fighting for affordable energy and utility services for low-income households. NCLC works on immediate measures, such as federal, state and utility payment assistance programs, affordable payment plans, arrearage management plans, fair rate design, strong deposit and termination protections. NCLC focuses on long-term affordability measures such as low-income efficiency programs, the federal weatherization program and appliance efficiency standards.
Project Stay Connected
Through Stay Connected, NCLC staff provide training and case advice for front-line social service workers and advocates in Massachusetts to help low-income people to maintain heating, electricity, gas, and phone services.
LIHEAP and Fuel Assistance
The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is the cornerstone of government efforts to help needy households afford their energy bills.
Weatherization & Home Energy Efficiency
The Weatherization Assistance Program helps income-eligible families and individuals by reducing their heating/cooling costs and improving the safety of their homes through energy efficiency measures.
Climate Change Justice
Low-income households would suffer disproportionately under most Congressional proposals to address climate change. Any new policies must include strong consumer protections, fairly allocate the program’s costs, and make investments in clean energy for low-income communities.
Appliance Efficiency Standards
The adoption of strong appliance efficiency standards reduces overall energy use, helping to lower costs for consumers and protecting the environment.
Consumer Protection & Regulatory Issues
Low-income households need stronger consumer protections and regulatory policies to prevent service terminations and other threats to affordable and continuous utility services.
Current water rates in the U.S. are unaffordable for many low-income households. The problem is only likely to worsen as aged water and wastewater systems struggle to finance necessary repairs.
Low-income households are in jeopardy of losing access to affordable telecommunications services in a rapidly changing and increasingly deregulated marketplace.
Electric and Gas
Delivery of electricity and gas services are some of the biggest problem areas for low-income consumers today.
Financing Energy Efficiency: On-Bill Financing and PACE Loans
The National Consumer Law Center is monitoring and commenting on the potential benefits and risks to consumers regarding various ways to finance home energy efficiency improvements, including:
- On-bill financing, where the loan repayments are included on the utility bill and
- Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, where the local city or town finances the improvements.
Utility Staff and Additional Resources