American families, especially poor ones, are spending more of their income on energy costs, says an analysis out today from a coal-industry advocacy group.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is an industry-supported group that blames government regulations for making energy more expensive. Stiffer environmental rules that push utilities to retire their dirtiest power plants are a factor, most recently in the 7 percent N.C. rate hike Duke Energy was granted last month.
But the study notes that rocketing gasoline prices account for most of growing energy costs. It also acknowledges that as costs rise, household incomes are dropping. Median incomes, adjusted for inflation, were 7 percent smaller in 2010 than they were in 2000, the Census Bureau reports.
This explains the outrage aimed at Duke Energy for seeking its second N.C. rate increase since 2009, with a third on the way later this year.
The ACCCE study is based on Census and Energy Information Administration data and price forecasts. In 2001, it says, families earning $10,000 to $30,000 a year spent 14 percent of their after-tax income on electricity, home heating and cooling and transportation. Now those costs gobble 24 percent.
For families making $30,000 to $50,000 a year, energy costs went from 10 percent to 17 percent. For those making more than $50,000, it rose from 5 percent to 9 percent.