Nikki Fried announces first statewide study on energy equity
Nikki Fried Tuesday, June 22, in Tampa.

Nikki Fried
Low-income, Black and Hispanic families face an energy burden three times higher than other consumers.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Tuesday morning her office is launching the first-ever statewide study of energy equity.

The examination, conducted under Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Energy, seeks to improve energy equity in Florida, Fried said.

“To help those who need it the most, we need to understand the systemic inequalities, the barriers and disparities and all the factors that keep vulnerable communities trapped in a cycle of energy efficiency and higher energy costs,” Fried said.

Research has shown that low-income, Black and Hispanic families face an energy burden three times higher than other consumers. This is often driven by increased utility costs caused by energy inefficient appliances, insulation and weather.

The office has already issued requests for proposals for researchers, which are due by 5 p.m. July 21.

“I hope many talented researchers step forward and help us solve this complex power struggle,” Fried said. “This has never been done before like this in the state of Florida.”

Fried was joined by former state Rep. Jennifer Webb, a Democrat ousted by Republican Rep. Linda Chaney in last year’s election in House District 69. Webb spoke about her experience in the state Legislature in trying to pass policy related to energy equity.

“When I was in the Legislature, we knew this was a problem we needed to address, and yet the majority party, again and again, stepped aside, pushed these issues aside, focusing solely on one area instead of making sure that we were also addressing this important issue,” Webb said. “Never was it more clear that this was an essential issue than during COVID.”

Webb went on to recall legislative members receiving call after call from families unable to pay utility bills.

“Day after day, hour after hour, our legislative offices across the state were getting pleas from hard-working families — not unable to pay their rent or their mortgage, but unable to pay their utility bills,” Webb said.

When asked how the study would provide concrete solutions, Fried said the state could employ grants and provide information to those in need about energy efficiency. Last year, the Office of Energy launched a $1 million grant program to assist low-income communities with high energy costs.

“This is not something that is red or blue; this is something that is a humanitarian effort,” Fried said. “Hopefully, this first-ever statewide study will go a long way to helping us develop solutions for families and our Floridians who are looking for relief from our high energy bills.”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    June 22, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Energy costs a fixed rate per unit, regardless of your race, color, ethnicity, gender, gender persuasion, creed, immigration status, age, education level, etc. If you use more units, your bill is higher. People of color do not necessarily use more units. If you own an older home that is less efficient, there are many ways for you to improve its efficiency so you will use fewer units. In the meantime, turn up the thermostat. Finally, if you have a lower income, regardless of your color, you will likely pay a larger share of your income for utility fees. There. The study is done. You may remit the millions of dollars you have budgeted for it, Ms. Fried.

    • Judi

      June 23, 2021 at 7:50 am

      Wasteful spending! I see every light in a home on, kids with every electronic thing you can have. Door left open and a/c rolling out, fridge door open….what happened to teaching people conservation? If you waste it or the kids do, you pay. Simple, I am single and keep my thermostat at 79, Why should I need to pay more so they can have 70 degrees, and every thing in the house running, while I conserve and live frugally as I can?

      • Beth

        June 25, 2021 at 7:06 am

        Exactly whose houses are you examining in the dark of night. Is this all you have to do with your life. I see nothing wrong with doing a study that would help those in need.

    • Cynthia Ryalls-Clephane

      June 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

      All of your statements about cost of energy are correct for a home owner. If you rent the possibility of doing anything but turning up the thermostat is not within your power. Apartment dwellers and renters are at the mercy of the landlord when it comes to how efficient your home is. Your attitude shows your privlidge. Offering landlords and low income home owners the means to make their rentals more efficient would not only help the individual but would be helpful for the enviroment. It is too bad that people have lost the ability to empathize with others less fortunate.

      • Ron Ogden

        June 23, 2021 at 11:50 am

        I rent, and I am on a fixed income. Okay? Does that me qualify as a real person in your universe?

  • Tom Palmer

    June 23, 2021 at 9:49 am

    There are some simple solutions to improve energy efficiency. Some involve education, but others require a capital investment that may be beyond the means of lower-income families. This issue certainly worth examining.

  • Kimberly Marie Roberts

    June 23, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Absolutely SICKENING. Nikki gonna start her campaign using FALSE RACE ISSUES. Guess what my friends who are a black minority family pay the same rate I pay. Your DISGUSTING and i would never vote for you. I suggest you come up with a new plan instead of using “race” as your card to make it to the Governors mansion.

    • Beth

      June 25, 2021 at 7:10 am

      Wow! You need to keep your anger toward Nikki under control.

Comments are closed.


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