Florida agriculture commissioner launches study on energy inequities

Fried says ‘the key to solving this is understanding it’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a plan on Tuesday that she hopes will get to the bottom of energy inequity.

At a news conference in Tampa she announced a new statewide study to find out why low-income, Black and Hispanic families face a choice between paying the rent and paying their electric bill.

A News 6 investigation in May uncovered the ZIP codes with the highest rates of heat-related illness, and it showed one mother who chooses to cool off her five daughters by playing with the garden hose rather than turning on the air conditioning.

“Nearly three million Floridians live in poverty, including 20% of Black and 16 percent of Hispanic families. While unemployment benefits and food banks have helped those in need throughout the pandemic, one issue not receiving enough help is high utility costs that disproportionately impact low-income consumers and communities of color,” said Fried. “Research shows that these consumers face an energy burden three times higher than other consumers. The key to solving this is understanding it – that’s why we’re launching Florida’s first-ever statewide energy equity study. Everyone has power bills – but too many struggle to pay them, choosing between rent, food, medicine, and utilities. I’m hopeful this study will help us develop equitable energy solutions for vulnerable Floridians looking for relief from high energy costs.”

Fried and her office are asking researchers to submit proposals to help with their study. You can find more information here.

The deadline is July 21 at 5 p.m.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.