Letter from the CEO: What Does Energy Insecurity Mean for Women?

Nearly 13% of families living in poverty in Baltimore, one of the cities where Groundswell is working, are paying $200 or more per month for electricity. That’s a lot, period, and it’s one more financially devastating fact for families that are struggling hard to make ends meet.

Across America, working families pay the most for electricity despite lower price trends and more affordable clean energy alternatives coming online. It’s one of the glaring facts about economic inequity that drives our work. The report we published this week, “From Power to Empowerment,” explores these hard facts further and ranks the 10 cities where struggling families are paying the most for electricity. It’s sobering – even when you know to expect this kind of disproportionate cost burden – and it’s part of a roadmap to action.

In honor of #EqualPay Day this week, I’d like to ask that we also consider the data from a woman’s point of view. Imagine you’re single mom with two kids, living on less than $28,000 per year, living in Baltimore, and paying about $200 per month for electricity. You rent, so you don’t have control over the things that are driving up that bill – like old appliances that are far from Energy Star, old windows, no insulation, and let’s not even talk about the heating and cooling system.

And you’re a woman, so you’re also making $0.78 on the dollar versus what a man would make. Or you’re a woman of color, which means you’re making $0.64 on the dollar if you’re African-American or even less, $0.56 on the dollar, if you are Latina. Plus you’re paying more for many basics thanks to the #PinkTax. Since you don’t get to pay your bills in “Lady Bucks” to normalize the inherent unfairness of your pay, these layers upon layers of institutional inequality stack up and make it that much harder to move your family forward, beyond financial struggle.

So what are we going to do about it? Groundswell is building community power for clean energy and economic equity. You’re on our list, so you’re part of that mission, too. From energy efficiency to equitable community solar – we will be bringing you more opportunities to get active on these issues where you live. Until then, we’d love it if you could help us share the word.