My team and I have been awarded a grant to investigate energy insecurity in the US. For the original post about the grant announcement see the Sloan Foundation Website: https://sloan.org/programs/research/energy-and-environment/energy-equity-grants
Aug 4, 2022
By Destenie Nock
I am thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a Sloan Grant from the Energy Insecurity, Distributional Equity, and Just Transitions RFP. This will fund my team and I's research energy insecurity, energy limiting behavior, and understanding how insecurity can lead to disconnections.
The project leads are as follows: Destenie Nock, Carnegie Mellon University Amritanshu Pandey, Carnegie Mellon University Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, University of Maryland Gabriel Chan, University of Minnesota David Konisky, Indiana University Using this funding we will examine how household energy insecurity is experienced by different demographic groups at the state and national levels. We will use various research methodologies to examine three aspects of household energy insecurity across multiple states in the north and south of the US.
First we will deepen our understanding of energy-limiting behavior often employed by marginalized and low-income households to better afford energy services. Analyzing detailed household energy use data across three states (Arizona, Illinois, and a mid-Atlantic state), the team will further develop a new energy insecurity metric—called the “energy equity gap”—which indicates the point at which households across different income and demographic groups turn on air conditioning during hot days (or, conversely, turn on heating during cold days). This metric will help identify hidden forms of energy insecurity that are often hard to assess, or are typically ignored, in more traditional measures of energy use and well-being.
Second, we will undertake a case study that will examine the effectiveness of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), and other state-level programs designed to help low-income households pay their energy bills. Team members will analyze over a decade’s-worth of household data from these programs, focusing on the state of Minnesota, to identify the extent that eligible households do or do not take advantage of these programs.
Lastly, we will develop a publicly available dashboard of utility disconnection policies from across the country to enable researchers to begin to compare and analyze intra- and inter-state differences in such policies and their subsequent effects on energy insecurity.
Thrilled and honored to be able to work on such meaningful projects with awesome collaborators.
One thing that we hope this work can do is reduce the number of people at risk of heat-illness and death in their homes, by illuminating the state of the energy insecurity problem in the US.
Thanks for reading
Note about the Author: Dr. Destenie Nock is an Assistant Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Her current research focuses on energy justice. Her research is computational in nature and involves creating mathematical models which simulate electricity systems and evaluates these systems in terms of their sustainability and equality. Her papers detailing the research she completed in energy justice, sustainability evaluation, and electricity modeling can be found here, and on her Google Scholar page. Fun fact: Dr. Nock likes to walk and travel to new places in her spare time.
Recent energy justice publications:
1. Cong, S., Nock, D., Qiu, Y. L., & Xing, B. (2022). Unveiling hidden energy poverty using the energy equity gap. Nature communications, 13(1), 1-12. Link
Quick summary of paper: Developed a new energy poverty metric, the energy equity gap, is defined as the difference air conditioning turn on points between low and high-income groups. In our study region, we estimate the energy equity gap to be between 4.7 F and 7.5 F. This reveals a hidden form of energy poverty.
2. Lou, J., Qiu, Y., Ku, A. L., Nock, D., & Xing, B. (2021). Inequitable and heterogeneous impacts on electricity consumption from COVID-19 mitigation measures. iScience, 24(11). Link
Quick summary of paper: We provide robust empirical evidence of the degree to which COVID-19 mitigation measures, especially the mandates of school closure and limiting business operations, have impacted electricity consumption behavior in low-income and ethnic minority groups in the United States. We find that the mandates of school closures and limiting business operations increase residential electricity consumption by 4–5%, but reduce commercial electricity consumption by 5–8%.