A Conversation With Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Clean Energy and Inequality

Secretary of Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of belatina.com

Did you know that Black, Hispanic, and Native American households spend a much larger portion of their income on energy bills?

A recent study made by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reported that these communities, which have historically been excluded, face higher energy burdens. And this plays against the basic needs of people.  

See, basic human needs go beyond having clean water, food, and shelter at this time of age. Nowadays, the quality of life can also be determined by commodities that have become necessary, such as energy security and accessible knowledge on pressing issues. 

In a recent conversation with the Secretary of Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, told BELatina News that “communities of color have been hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change and climate pollution.”

Unfortunately, climate change is causing many people, especially those from often excluded communities, to forgo the benefits of a safe environment — including at home. 

The Black and Latinx communities continue to be disadvantaged by the effects of planet Earth’s atmospheric changes. This is why the Biden Administration is working towards closing this gap. 

Through the “Build Back Better” agenda, Biden is negotiating an infrastructure bill where he’s committing 40 percent of the benefit of the bill to go to communities of color and communities who are on the front line of carbon pollution. 

“The whole agenda is worth over three trillion dollars,” Secretary Granholm said.  

The bipartisan infrastructure plan would also create nearly half a million manufacturing jobs and two million jobs per year on average beyond manufacturing.

According to the Secretary of Energy, researchers have found that air pollution has disproportionately been caused by white Americans’ consumption of goods and services, which is inhaled by sixty-three percent of the Black and Latino community, causing heart and breathing deaths.

But the “Build Back Better” agenda has lots of strategies to ensure that communities of color can sway. 

From the child tax credit to investing in clean energy, its sole purpose is to cater to communities that have continuously been overlooked due to systemic inequities. 

While these advancements get solidified, Secretary Granholm advises people to try to adjust their lifestyle to promote cleaner energy.

“Making sure that they have the opportunity to weatherize their home is important, for example, electrifying their home,” she said. 

“Meaning that if you cook on an electric stove, you’re going to save money because it’s less expensive than cooking with gas.”

Other things can be implemented, such as solar panels if you’re a homeowner. 

“You can finance that [solar panels] and have your energy bill reduced by 50 to 100 dollars a month,” she added.

The Secretary also suggested swapping out some appliances at home. For example, as she said, switching to a LED light bulb can save families a couple of hundred dollars a year, and replacing old, out-of-date appliances can save another three hundred and twenty dollars a year for families. 

“It’s small on a monthly basis, but over time that adds up.”

When asked about the disparity Black and Latino neighborhoods face regarding accessibility to solar power, especially since they make up about 50 percent of the population, she said that they [the Biden Administration] want to correct that.

“We want to change that imbalance.”

There’s one thing for sure: the clean energy conversation needs to remain steadfast to a vision that benefits everyone.