Grassroots Effort Spurred Good Change to Low-income Energy Policy
In June 2015, the state Public Service Commission created a proposal to modify low-income energy assistance programs — without soliciting input from low-income people.
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson anchored a committee within the Energy Democracy Alliance (EDA), a statewide energy justice coalition, to organize a grassroots response.
We convened in Albany in August 2015, and low-income members of EDA organizations interrupted a meeting for the proceeding to demand input for their communities. That action won statewide public hearings about the proposal, which allowed us to organize an even stronger grassroots response.
Over the rest of 2015, the EDA turned out dozens of working class people to hearings, including in Poughkeepsie, to demand expanded funding and eligibility for energy assistance programs.
As a result, the Public Service Commission overhauled its proposal, released on May 19. We won incredible changes: Funding was expanded by $69 million, and eligibility was expanded by 550,000 more households. In total, funding will be $248 million and eligibility will include 1.65 million households. A joint, inter-agency task force, designed to further increase enrollment to 2.3 million total households, has also been formed.