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Report shows higher energy prices are unaffordable for poorest CT households


Higher energy prices are unaffordable for the poorest Connecticut households, according to the statewide energy assistance program Operation Fuel.

The study on the affordability gap was conducted by Operation Fuel, which provides statewide energy assistance programs. Representatives from the program joined state legislators Thursday to present the findings of the report.

The data shows that the affordability gap grew 37% in the past three years. The study consisted of post-pandemic data about transportation, energy, housing and water affordability across the state. It found that roughly 420,000 families in Connecticut cannot afford their energy bills.

Gannon Long with Operation Fuel said the goal would be to have less than 3% of residents’ income going to energy bills. But Long said some families in Connecticut are facing bills that are more than 10% of their income for energy alone.

“So you’re seeing in different parts of the state where that's achievable — in large part based on higher incomes — in other parts of the state where it’s an absolutely overwhelming burden,” Long said.

According to the report, due to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic disruption, 2022 saw record inflation. The report found there were consistently high burdens present in Hartford, New Haven and the northwest corner of the state.

House Speaker Mathew Ritter (D-Hartford) said studies like these could help to shape policy decisions and bills that are introduced. He said additional assistance will be explored in Connecticut’s next legislative session.

“If the legislature has to step in to make sure people can keep lights on, keep the heat on. That’s obviously a really important thing as we get to winter,” Ritter said.

Operation Fuel needed to pause the acceptance of new applications earlier this year due to rising costs and rising demand. The program wants to encourage residents who have issues with their bills to seek assistance.

Residents can find a summary of the report and the full 2023 Mapping Cost of Household Burdens report on the Operation Fuel website.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.