VEIC Author
Justine Sears
Leslie Badger
Date
10/30/20
Industry
Energy Offices
Transit Agencies
Government
Foundations & Nonprofits
Partners & Clients
Connecticut Green Bank
Operation Fuel

Low- and moderate-income households spend a larger percentage of income on energy than higher income households. Preserving energy affordability is critical to the ability of these households to not only meet basic needs but also build wealth. To understand current patterns in energy affordability in Connecticut, VEIC analyzed spending on building energy (heating and electricity) and transportation across the state. Our analysis of transportation spending includes all transportation-related costs (vehicle ownership, maintenance, fuel, and transit costs), even those beyond energy, since these are the true costs households face to meet their mobility needs. We also considered spending on housing in our analysis because housing and transportation costs are often closely related.

This research was sponsored by Connecticut Green Bank and builds on a 2017 report released by Operation Fuel – Home Energy Affordability in Connecticut. Our findings indicate that spending on energy, housing, and transportation were unaffordable throughout the state, with the highest affordability gaps clustered in Connecticut’s urban areas. Our results suggest that a range of policies and programs are needed to maintain affordability for Connecticut’s households across energy and transportation sectors. The combination of efficiency and solar can close the building energy affordability gap for most qualifying households in the state that own their dwelling, dramatically reducing annual energy costs. Fewer options are available to renting households, although existing programs, like Energize Connecticut Home Energy Solutions, do substantially reduce building energy burden.

Addressing Connecticut’s high transportation burden is critical to keeping the state affordable. Transportation costs were high throughout the state: in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and across income levels. We recommend two strategies to reduce transportation burden for Connecticut’s households: minimize reliance on private vehicles through increased access to high quality public transit and electric bikes; and increase adoption of electric vehicles to reduce fuel costs for households that do own vehicles. Providing Connecticut households mobility without reliance on private vehicles would be a transformative way of reducing transportation burden, especially for low- and moderate- income households, improving the equity of the state’s transportation system. In rural and suburban areas, where reliance on private vehicles is unavoidable, access to affordable electric vehicles provides reliable transportation with lower fuel and maintenance costs relative to gasoline-powered vehicles.

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