Full Title: Energy Affordability in Maryland
Author(s): Arjun Makhijani, Yunus Kinkhabwala, Jessie Jaeger, Kelsey Bilsback, Lee Ann L. Hill, Laurel Peltier, Boris Lukanov, and Elena Krieger
Publisher(s): PSE Healthy Energy
Publication Date: February 22, 2023
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Almost 400,000 Maryland households pay more than six percent of their income on home energy bills. These high energy cost burdens often force individuals and families to make impossible choices between paying utility bills and other essentials such as rent or medicine. Over the next twenty-five years, energy costs will likely increase as utilities invest billions to replace natural gas infrastructure under the 2013 Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement (STRIDE) law. Yet whether these investments will serve their useful life remains unclear, as state climate policy requires a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels, creating a serious risk of stranded costs.
In this report, The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and PSE Healthy Energy (PSE) outline strategies to alleviate energy cost burdens, while improving public health and achieving carbon emissions reduction goals. We find that providing near-term utility bill assistance alongside significant, long-term investments in residential building weatherization and electrification—with prioritization for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households—holds the potential to simultaneously mitigate climate and health-damaging air pollutant emissions, while alleviating energy cost burdens for those who need it most. These efforts will save money in achieving affordability for all, compared to assistance alone.