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By Greg Palast

Parma Principles of Energy and Water Security for all Americans
The Low-Income Peer Exchange
May 12, 2006
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Principles developed by a national ad-hoc group of low-income advocates, including sign-ons.


Principles of Energy and Water Security for all Americans


In 21st century America, it is reasonable that all workers, retirees and their families should be able to afford to meet their basic requirements for fuel and safe shelter, and to expect that the policies that govern our energy markets are fair, forward-looking, and make our nation more secure.  Current policies are not achieving these goals.


Consumers are experiencing unprecedented increases in bills for their household electricity, heat, water, as well as transportation.  Many with modest incomes cannot afford to pay for the minimum energy their homes need along with their other basic necessities such as rent, food and medicine.


The nation should recognize and act on the following two basic principles to correct its current course.


I. Electricity, Heat and water are necessities of life that must be affordable for all consumers.


II.  State, federal and local governments must act together to assure electricity, heat and water services are Reliable, safe, sustainable and offered at a fair price.



Principle I: Electricity, heat and water are necessities of life that must be affordable for all consumers.




1.    All consumers must have secure, safe, and reliable supplies of electricity, heat and water for their homes.


2.    Sufficient energy and water should be provided at a fair price. A fair price is one that reflects the long-term reasonable cost of providing services from dependable supply and conservation and efficiency sources managed to maximize reliability and availability.


3.    Consumers should pay their fair share of the costs of providing the household energy and water they need; a fair share is an affordable amount, taking into account a household’s incomes. 

Principle II: State, federal and local governments must act together to assure electricity, heat and water services are reliable, safe, sustainable and offered at a fair price




1.    Because states have the primary responsibility for protecting consumers’ interests in affordable energy and water, they must:


Ø     Establish market rules and consumer protections that ensure affordable, stable, and secure energy and water supplies;

Ø     Require that consumers get fair treatment in all transactions with energy and water providers;

Ø     Ensure there are prudent public and private investments in diverse, sustainable, clean and least-cost supplies of energy and water; and

Ø     Determine that utility rates, consumer services and industry investment practices allow consumers with limited funds to pay no more than a fair and affordable share of their energy and water service.


2.    Because the federal government has responsibility for overseeing interstate energy markets, it must:


Ø     Reinforce the states’ ability to protect the public’s interest in secure, safe and affordable energy and water and the states’ power to hold energy and water providers accountable for their decisions;

Ø     Support state policies that promote price stability, reliability and long-term availability;

Ø     Ensure the nation has sufficient reserves of production, transportation and storage capacity to protect against national and international market disruptions;

Ø     Ensure that wholesale energy prices are just and reasonable;

Ø     Implement policies that encourage prudent investments in new supply and, conservation and efficiency;

Ø     Supervise national markets to ensure that transactions and corporate relationships are transparent, customers are protected from market manipulation, and the security of American consumers is maintained;

Ø     Together with the States, take action to sustain a diverse, clean domestic energy supply, including efficiency investments; and

Ø     Implement national policies that support fair prices and affordable supplies of energy and water in every region of the nation.


3.    Governments at every level must be accountable to energy and water consumers, including residential consumers, and maximize their participation, by ensuring that every element of decision-making is:


Ø     Transparent,

Ø     Based on a public planning process and

Ø     Open to all consumers and their advocates.




Who We Are


These principles were developed by a longstanding, informal coalition of consumer energy advocates and community-based organizations meeting in May of 2006 at Parma, Ohio.


The undersigned organizations and individuals include most of the members of this ‘Low-Income Advocates Network’. They are marked with an asterisk.  The undersigned welcome inquiries about these principles and the strategies for implementing them.


Although our group’s principal focus is home energy, we recognize that transportation energy consumes a growing and increasing percentage of low-wage workers’ incomes. The cost of transportation fuel and the cost of home energy fuels are closely related and similar principles should guide policy regarding mobility.


Finally, we are mindful of the opportunities for community sustainability offered by environmentally attractive alternatives to large-scale, fossil-fuel energy systems. We support policies that require a diverse, sustainable and clean energy supply that includes efficiency, renewables, and other distributed resources.




National Organizations


A World Institute for Sustainable Humanity

  (A W.I.S.H.) *


Democracy And Regulation


National Community Action Foundation


National Consumer Law Center*


State and Local Organizations


Appalachian People's Action Coalition (OH)


Ashtabula County Community Action (OH)


Association for Energy Affordability, Inc. (NY)


Association for Senior Citizens (CO)


Cerebral Palsy Association of Ohio


Catholic Charities, Diocese of Pueblo (CO)


Cleveland Housing Network (OH)


Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)


Community Action Organization of Scioto Co., Inc. (OH)


Community Power Network of New York

  State *


Connecticut Legal Services, Inc.*


Consumers for Fair Utility Rates* (OH)


Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD) (OH)


Douglas/Elbert Task Force (CO)


Greater Hartford Legal Aid (CT)


Hunger Network in Ohio

Illinois Community Action Association*


Legal Assistance Resource Center of CT


May Dugan Multi-Service Center* (OH)


New Haven Legal Assistance Association (CT)


Ohio Environmental Council


Ohio Heartland Community Action Commission


Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy (OPAE) *


Ohio State Legal Services Association


Public Utility Law Project of New York (NY PULP) *


The Energy CENTS Coalition (MN)


The Energy Project * (WA)


United Clevelanders Against Poverty (OH)


Washington State Community Action Partnership


West Virginia Community Action Partnership