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Energy Justice for All

Energy Justice For All

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When our society is powered by a just energy system, everyone benefits. A just energy system preserves human and ecological dignity, privileges people over profit, and sustains the energy we need to survive and thrive. The system we have now makes energy a commodity managed through market mechanisms and only limited by technology and the increasing monetary cost of mining, drilling, fracking, piping and burning natural resources. People and the environment are sidelined by an extractive and monopolistic energy industry, leaving the most vulnerable at the mercy of rising prices, reliant on emissions-heavy and unsafe modes of power and home heating, and the first and worst impacted by the climate crisis. Front and Centered is advocating for a Just Transition from this extractive energy system toward a regenerative energy system that puts the health and well-being of current and future generations first at every stage of the energy process, from Source to Use.

“I am 23 and was recently laid off due to COVID-19. I have been out of work since March, possibly going back soon. I have been struggling a bit keeping my utilities up and paid. Anything helps and would be greatly appreciated whether it be food, money, anything. I appreciate this opportunity to apply.”
– Jasmine, Vancouver

“I’m the sole provider in the family and since my kids are out of school I’ve seen an increase in utilities and my grocery bill is now doubled. The girls are no longer able to work, which has caused a bigger impact on my finances. I’m more afraid of our children’s health and I believe it is important to teach them self care in the midst of covid-19.” – Taylor, Kelso

Energy in Washington

In Washington, our energy system is keeping over seven and a half million people warm while drawing on a mix of renewable and polluting resources. Our state has committed to transition our electricity grid off fossil fuels and prioritize energy conservation. The cost of managing the generation and flow of energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable power falls on all of us through customer rates and taxes, although not equitably. Everyone needs energy, and while we use lights and heat and use of the technologies that keep us connected, the industry that serves these needs profits from having near total control. Meanwhile, energy access and affordability is a significant challenge for many Washingtonians who are subject to getting their power shut off for nonpayment. Too many people facing disconnection are not reached by energy assistance while utilities are carrying massive debt due to the Covid crisis.

“Since the start of Covid-19, my family has been impacted greatly. My husband had to take leave from his job (our main source of income). After losing my job I applied for unemployment assistance only to still be waiting for an agent to speak with… We as a family have seen our income cut in half only to request payment options to keep our home lights on and bills paid. We do our best to make sure food comes first, but bills are piling up when we don’t have the resources available to us.” – Martina, Vancouver

Energy For All - Front and Centered 2022 Legislative Priority

The Front and Centered coalition and our allies have been working to advance ENERGY FOR ALL (House Bill 1490 / House Bill Analysis) and convince our Legislature to pass a policy to secure affordable energy as a right for low income and disabled Washingtonians most at risk of getting their power shut off.  ENERGY FOR ALL is part of a Just Transition to a regenerative energy system through equitable rates and effective limits on utilities control on our right to affordable, renewable energy. The bill includes:

  • Energy bill payment plan options with bills capped at 3% of household income
  • Eligible customers are able to enroll in payment plan
  • Low-income households and households with people with disabilities are eligible
  • Covers annual home energy usage up to 15 megawatt hours or 800 therms (above average use to cover residences which need more energy to warm older and less efficient homes)
  • Customer communications must be in appropriate language and format for residents to understand
  • Past due balance debt on accounts written off after one year of plan payments
  • Utilities must regularly report data on residential customer usage and energy assistance need and energy assistance program participation for customers and eligible customers, disaggregated by zip code

A HEALTHY AND JUST TRANSITION TO RENEWABLE ENERGY

FACING A UTILITY DISCONNECTION?

Find out about your options now

If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance to pay their Electricity, Gas, or Water bills, there is help – check out this website and outreach materials in multiple languages explaining how qualified households can access available assistance: Utility Assistance – WA Dept of Commerce

GET ENGAGED!

Have you faced hardship due to the cost of home energy? Tell us your story!

Your stories can help shape vital policy. We will share your story as part of our collective advocacy to help pass the ENERGY FOR ALL bill, including on our website, social media, email, and in resources aimed to inform and engage frontline communities and legislators. Your response here is secure: it is optional for you to provide your contact details for us to follow up with you or to decide to testify before a legislative committee.

TAKE ACTION!