A new University of Michigan-led project, in partnership with four Detroit community-based organizations, will try to lighten that load a bit. Team members will work with residents of 200 low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in three Detroit neighborhoods-Jefferson Chalmers, Southwest Detroit and The Villages at Parkside-to improve home energy efficiency and to lower monthly utility bills.
At the same time, the U-M researchers will explore the possibility of reforming the utility rate structure to provide the basic electricity needs of LMI households for free while ensuring that the utility provider’s costs are covered.
“Our premise is that energy is a basic human right. With a better understanding of energy consumption, we can determine if there is a free block of ‘essential’ energy that everyone should get-and if not everyone, then those least likely to be able to afford it,” said project leader Tony Reames, an assistant professor of energy justice at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.