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Electricity bills are expected to grow this summer

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Electricity bills are expected to grow this summer

Rising natural gas prices, as well as decommissioning of coal plants and limited oil production, mean electricity bills are likely to rise across the country this summer.

This includes Mississippi, where both energy consumption and inability to pay electricity bills are among the highest in any state.

Earlier this month, the Energy Information Administration predicted that electricity bills across the country would grow by an average of 4% this summer compared to 2021. The EIA predicts a 3% increase in the East-South Central region, which includes Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Typically, homes in the southeastern states consume more electricity than the rest of the country. In 2020, the average Mississippi resident enjoyed more electricity than just the other two states, Louisiana and Tennessee.

“A lot of it has to do with climate,” said Central District Civil Service Commissioner Brent Bailey. “But we also have old housing stock, a lot (of houses) that haven’t gotten major upgrades, upgrades or weather.”

Bailey also said the Mississippi has a lot of manufactured homes that tend to be less energy efficient.

Although the retail price of energy in Mississippi is cheaper than the national average, paying electricity bills is a relatively difficult task because the state consumes so much energy and has the lowest average family income.

For low-income residents, the “energy burden” – how much a person’s income goes to pay their electricity bills – is 12 percent higher in the Mississippi than in any other state, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Catherine Lee, who coordinates home health and safety programs for the Green & Healthy Homes initiative in Jackson, explained that high utility bills are forcing homeowners to make difficult budget decisions.

“People very often first take care of rent and utilities before they take care of other health and nutrition needs,” she said. “This is a common problem that many families we work with need to think about, and they need to figure out how to deal with payment plans when they are lagging behind and if they feel disconnected, have to pay fees back everything back.”

And Entergy Mississippi, and Mississippi Power raised retail rates in response to rising natural gas prices, increasing the average monthly bill by $ 7.81 and $ 5.27 respectively, according to the WLBT.

Bailey and Lee called for improved state energy efficiency standards to lower electricity bills.

“As for the nationwide framework, we don’t have a minimum building code built around efficient housing construction, which I think requires serious consideration,” Bailey said.

While some cities have their own measures, the Mississippi does not have uniform energy efficiency standards for construction, as in many states, he explained. He added that landlords have no incentive to make these changes.

“What motivates a landlord to invest in weather upgrades if they still get the same price for that lease?” he said.

PSC-regulated utilities, such as Entergy Mississippi, Mississippi Power and Atmos, offer efficiency programs such as discounts for replacing old appliances or personal checks to check things like insulation.

Lee said the measures have limited scope.

“The way programs are run now has no energy reduction targets for utilities,” she said. “There are no indicators to track how they improve overall performance.”

A map of energy efficiency policy indicators compiled by the American Council on Energy Efficiency, ranked Mississippi 48th in the country in 2020.

Even after taking into account differences in weather, age and home size, low-income homes in Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas consume 36% more electricity than other states. according to DOE.

“It shows to me that our housing stock has a significant need for modernization, which they don’t get because we don’t invest enough in it,” Lee said.

Under new funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Mississippi received more than $ 28 million to help with the weathering assistance program, which provides funding for insulation, upgrades and other efficiency measures through the Mississippi Department of Social Services.

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