Big-picture discussions of energy issues must not overlook the fact that millions of Americans lack access to reliable, affordable energy for daily use. The challenge of alleviating energy poverty and high household burdens for affordable energy remains to be fully addressed. For instance, some 14 million households face utility payments in arears and 2.2 million households experience utility shutoffs every year. Consequently, policymakers need to expand and rework existing programs and institutional capabilities to deliver assistance more effectively to households in need and use community ties to encourage full participation and innovative solutions.
In a “key findings” brief for the Scholars Strategy Network, I suggest three ways restructuring of the processes and procedures of the the two primary low-income energy assistance programs (Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization Assistance) could improve impact and efficiency.
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