Sen. Murkowski Presents New Indicators to Measure Energy Insecurity for Alaskans

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Tim Scott, R-S.C., on Friday offered a new set of economic indicators to measure the impact of rising energy costs on American families. 

Murkowski and Scott described the tools in a new report entitled, Plenty at Stake: Indicators of American Energy Insecurity. The report is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.


(Click for video of Sens. Murkowski and Scott discussing their energy insecurity report.)


“The consequences of higher energy costs on American families can be dire, and nowhere is that more true than in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Heating homes in the winter isn’t something Alaskan families can simply choose not to do. It’s a matter of survival. This tool allows us to estimate how many Alaskans are pushed below the poverty line, how many lose a significant portion of their spendable budget, and how many are forced to spend more than 10 percent of their income on energy. It should be our goal to keep energy affordable, and ensure that they never face the harsh choice between paying for household energy or other basic necessities.” 

The indicators described in the report provide a new way to evaluate public policies and other events that impact household energy prices – electricity and oil and natural gas used for home heating and cooling. 

The report examines the impact of increased household energy costs in three ways:

  • The number of households that experience a significant decrease in spendable budget, for example the impact on money available for groceries; 
  • The number of households pushed below the poverty line; and 
  • The average household energy burden, expressed as a percentage of average gross income.

Energy insecurity – the measure of the number of Americans who cannot afford the energy required to heat their homes without sacrificing other necessary expenses – forces many to choose between paying their energy bills or paying for food, medical care, and other necessities. Rising energy prices also disproportionately impact minorities and low-income households. 

The indicators are designed to help policymakers make informed decisions when considering federal policy proposals and regulations that are likely to increase the cost of energy. While Murkowski and Scott looked specifically at the effect of rising energy costs on their home states of Alaska and South Carolina, respectively, the indicators can be applied to any state or region and the report includes results for all states.

“Energy prices are a topic of discussion at nearly every Denny’s in America, but that conversation is just not taking place back in Washington, DC. So this report is part of my effort to give affordability the attention it deserves – and in the process, to make it a key goal within our nation’s energy policies,” Murkowski said. “It’ll come as no surprise that Alaska was my motivation. It’s impossible to travel around our State without observing how high energy prices are in many communities, how big of a burden that imposes on our families, and how devastating the impacts are when prices rise. Alaska is why I care about this issue, and why I think it is critical to focus on.” 

The Murkowski-Scott report on energy insecurity builds on the Energy 20/20 blueprint Murkowski released last year. All of Murkowski’s Energy 20/20 reports are available on the energy committee’s website.