Energy & Environment

Black households pay more for energy than white households: analysis

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Black households pay more for energy than white households, according to a new analysis. 

A working paper from the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy Institute at Haas found that, when controlling for year, income, household size and city of residence, Black renters paid $273 more per year for energy than white renters between 2010 and 2017. 

Black homeowners paid $408 more for energy than white homeowners did during the same period. 

During this time frame, energy expenditures for both groups decreased. However, in 2017, black renters still paid $200 more a year for energy expenses than white renters, and black homeowners paid $310 a year more than their white counterparts. 

The analysis used data from American Community Survey and looked at the sum of expenses on electricity, natural gas and other home heating fuels. 

Author Eva Lyubich wrote that there is evidence linking the expense disparity to the total number of houses and apartments in an area, as well as differences in other other energy efficiency investments. 

“Given the long history of discriminatory housing policy, lending practices, and racial segregation in the United States, differences in housing stock and accumulated wealth are possible explanations for the
remaining residential energy expenditure gap,” Lyubich wrote. 

She also wrote that her findings contribute to “a broad set of evidence that Black Americans bear a disproportionate burden of the current energy system, both through disproportionate pollution exposure, and as I highlight, through disproportionate costs, likely at least in part as a result of persistent disparities in wealth and housing.” 

The analysis is a working paper and has not yet been peer-reviewed. 

Tags Black homeownership energy bills University of California-Berkeley

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