Finally Some Fairness For Electricity Ratepayers

By George Landrith, editorial

The Hill

July 18, 2016

As an essential commodity that powers every modern household, electricity is something most of us wouldn’t know how to live without. Families at all income levels rely on it to power everything from their coffee pot in the morning to their reading lamp at night. We rely on it to heat our homes, warm our meals and charge our devices. But electricity is not getting any cheaper.

Anyone who’s monitored their utility bills over the past eight years has seen a steady increase in the amount they owe. And while rising prices squeeze every ratepayer, they have particularly dramatic consequences for the already tight budgets of America’s working poor. So as lawmakers shape energy policy, it’s critically important that they consider the needs of those among us who are struggling financially.

One idea currently under consideration by Congress is called The Ratepayer Fairness Act. It was authored by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and aims to protect working-class Americans from covering the costs of special energy technologies they could never afford to use themselves.

The proposal requires public utilities to examine whether new policies benefit only a small number of wealthy electric consumers, then directs them to publicize their findings. It also compels utilities to study whether new policies hand affluent ratepayers an unfair advantage or have a negative impact on the security of our energy infrastructure.

The appropriately named Ratepayer Fairness Act is an uncontroversial way to ensure utilities focus on the pocketbooks of those most vulnerable to rising electricity prices. It recently passed the House as part of a larger energy package and now awaits consideration in the new Conference Committee tasked with blending House and Senate energy bills together.

At the Energy Equality Coalition, we believe authorities should consider the working poor before requiring them to subsidize technology they could never afford. That's why our coalition supports The Ratepayer Fairness Act and urges members of the Conference Committee to preserve it in the final bill.

The Energy Equality Coalition is fighting to end unfair subsidies and ensure a level playing field for American energy consumers. The EEC works to educate the public about energy policies that disproportionately benefit the richest among us at the expense of working-class Americans. We believe there should be balance in energy policies, not special treatment for an elite few who can afford to take advantage of them.

Our supporters are energized and eager to share their concerns with members of the new conference committee on the energy bill. And we’re confident that our message will resonate beyond the halls of the Capitol building. After all, who can oppose a level playing field for working-class energy consumers?

Landrith is a board member of the Energy Equality Coalition. He is also President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank that promotes range of free market principles. Landrith is a recognized legal expert who appears frequently on radio, television and in print.