Moreover, he said, family incomes were not keeping up with rising energy prices, particularly those of gasoline.
George Hand, general manager of the Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative near Seminole, said new regulations had offset some of last year's reduction in electricity rates stemming from lower natural gas prices.
Some of the cooperative's customers, many of whom are farmers or retired farmers, call the utility to find out how much their next electric bill will be so they'll know how much they can spend on food, Hand said.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said the benefits of environmental policies “have far exceeded the costs of regulatory compliance.” Weather extremes resulting from climate change, she said, also burdened the economy and American families.
Some of the witnesses at the hearing said a federal program meant to help low-income people pay their heating and cooling bills had low participation; only 16 percent of those eligible accepted the aid, Trisko said.
At the same time, they said, funding had been cut from about $5 billion annually to $3.4 billion.