U-M’s Tony Reames testifies before Congress on Clean Energy Access and Affordability

Tony G. Reames, Ph.D., assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability, recently testified before the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce to discuss the importance of an equity-based approach to improving clean energy access. 

Reames leads the Urban Energy Justice Lab at U-M, which conducts research on the production and persistence of spacial, racial, and socio-economic disparities in energy access affordability and policymaking. It was established in 2015 to study energy-related topics through a justice lens, primarily in an urban context. 

During the congressional testimony, which was held virtually on Oct. 1, Reames focused on the response and recognitions of energy poverty, disparities in access to clean energy technology, and a call for a national energy poverty and justice strategy. 

“Stark disparities exist in U.S. energy burdens; both urban and rural low-income households spend substantially greater proportions of their income on energy costs when compared to non-low-income households,” Reames said. 

He added that Black, LatinX, elderly, multi-family, and renter-occupied households are disproportionately impacted by high-energy burdens, leaving millions of Americans in energy poverty. 

Reames explored various ways that restructuring the processes and procedures of the low-income home energy assistance and weatherization assistance programs could improve their impact and efficiency. He also discussed his recommendations for what Congress should consider for a national energy poverty and justice strategy.  

Hear Reames’ recommendations by watching the recording from the testimony.