TEPRI’s Start to an Infinite Future
BLOG POST | JULY 12, 2019
By: Becky Klein, Principal, Klein Energy and TEPRI Founder and Board Director
This July, we are not only celebrating America’s birthday, but also the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute’s (TEPRI) release of its first interactive research tool: The Energy Poverty Clearinghouse. Although TEPRI has already announced other projects on the heels of this (and has several others in the works), the Energy Poverty Clearinghouse deserves special mention. I founded TEPRI in 2015 to inspire lasting energy solutions for low-income communities in Texas. The Energy Poverty Clearinghouse advances that mission. It represents a unique, in-depth and broad compilation of documents that provides the world an online library to start or enhance research, awareness and understanding of the many different facets of energy poverty in America.
In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty. He described its purpose as:
“The War on Poverty is not a struggle simply to support people, to make them dependent on the generosity of others. It is a struggle to give people a chance . . . so that they can share, as others share, in the promise of this Nation.”
Just as President Johnson envisioned giving our low-income people a chance, TEPRI’s vision is to provide tools and knowledge that enable low-income households to share in energy technologies, services and programs that promise financial savings, usage efficiency and cleaner air. We believe that you can reveal through research and partnerships the benefits of innovative technologies, creative business models and modern policies that will mitigate the energy burden of low-income households.
Energy poverty describes a situation in which a low-income household cannot meet its basic energy needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In Texas, 41% of the population is low-income (below 80% of Area Median Income), and in our state, low-income households have energy cost burdens over 3 times higher than their non-low-income counterparts. The root causes of energy poverty are multi-dimensional. It’s easy to assume the problem is high energy rates. But when understood more fully, energy poverty exists due to a confluence of factors, including economic hardship, sociodemographic factors, energy behaviors, housing type and household composition.
The Energy Poverty Clearinghouse (www.energy-poverty.info) is an important and seminal tool in expanding general awareness, research, collaboration, education, financial resources, and problem solving related to multi-dimensional aspects of energy poverty. The Clearinghouse is an unprecedented repository of resources that contains material covering the trending issues, technologies, and services that are relevant to energy poverty and low-income energy burdens in America. The resources span multiple formats including publications, journal articles, white papers, reports, and more. Users can search the resources by using “quick search” terms or by specifying additional search criteria in the main search bar. Users can also sign up to stay informed by receiving emails when the latest resources are added to the Clearinghouse.
As an independent, non-partisan, objective organization, TEPRI is proud to bring the Energy Poverty Clearinghouse to the fore. However, this could not have been done without the faith, support and dedication of Texas’ State Energy Conservation Office and the University of Texas at Austin.
It is my hope that the Energy Poverty Clearinghouse will be a catalyst to open communication about best practices, technologies, and unique energy services for low-income communities. This in turn will inform decision-making and move energy stakeholders to action, inspiring further research and progress.
What President Johnson started fifty-five years ago, TEPRI aims to enhance in the hope that all Texans can share in the benefits of our robust energy state.