The provisions in the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act (APA) to protect low-income consumers from incurring higher energy bills in the transition to a less carbon energy reliant economy are ‘well designed’ according to Chad Stone, Senior Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The APA places a cap on carbon emissions and it is expected that before clean energy innovations mature energy prices will rise – rise that will trigger increases in the costs of goods and most services.
The APA proposes a low-income relief policy and delivery mechanism much like the one proposed in the House bill that passed last year. Stone summarizes it this way:
There are three main highlights:
First, households with incomes at or below 150 percent of the poverty line will be eligible to receive monthly energy refunds by direct deposit or through states’ electronic benefit transfer – or EBT systems. These are the debit-card systems states already use to deliver food stamps and other federal benefits.
Second, households that receive food stamps, as well as low-income seniors and people with disabilities who participate in the Supplemental Security Income program, will be enrolled for the energy refunds automatically.
Third, households with slightly higher incomes —about $33,000 -$55,000 a year for a family of four — will be eligible for a smaller tax credit. The credit will be refundable, meaning that if the amount of a family’s credit exceeds its income tax liability, it can receive the difference in the form of a refund check.