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The Energy Equity Gap: Unveiling Hiddenro Energy Poverty

June 17, 2021
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PST


Income-based energy poverty metrics miss people’s behavior patterns, particularly those who reduce their energy consumption to limit financial stress. Using a residential electricity consumption dataset, we determine the outdoor temperature at which households start using home cooling systems. Using this inflection temperature, we calculate the relative energy poverty within a region, which we define as the energy equity gap. In our study region, we find that the energy equity gap between low and high-income groups ranges from 4.7°F to 7.5°F. In 2015-2016, within our population of 4,577 households, we found 86 energy-poor and 214 energy-insecure, meaning they are at risk of heat-related illness and death. In contrast, the traditional income-based energy poverty metric identified just 141 households as energy insecure. Only three households were defined as energy-poor or energy-insecure by both our temperature-based measure and the traditional income-based measure. This minimal overlap shows the value of considering consumer behavior when identifying energy poverty and energy insecurity.

FEATURING:

Dr. Destenie Nock - Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Engineering & Public Policy,
Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Destenie Nock is a leader in energy justice and equitable energy transitions. In her role as an Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) she leads a team of researchers who create optimization and decision analysis tools which evaluate the sustainability, equity, and reliability of power systems in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Nock holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and an Offshore Wind Energy IGERT Fellow. She earned a MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Queen’s University of Belfast, and two BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Math at North Carolina A&T State University. She is the creator of the Black Electricity Blog site which posts articles about graduate and undergraduate advice, and research updates in energy and sustainability.

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