Nearly 360,000 West Virginians depend on food stamps to make ends meet — that’s 19.5 percent of the state’s population. For these households, paying for food and necessities like clothing and shelter is already a daily struggle, let alone paying an electricity bill that could have been much lower with the right set of policies.
That’s because keeping the lights on, and their homes warm, takes a bigger bite out of the budget for this these households than it does for the average family.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the bottom fifth of households spent 22 percent of their take-home pay on residential utility bills and gasoline in April 2016. That’s significantly higher than the 6 percent experts say is “affordable.”