tv Discussion on Energy Access Affordability CSPAN August 27, 2019 1:43pm-3:20pm EDT
>> the fate of this country and even the world lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate: conflict and compromise using original interviews, c-span archives and access to the senate chamber. we look at the history, traditions and goals of the u.s. senate. >> raise your right hand. >> sunday at nine eastern and pacific on c-span. >> now a discussion on energy access and affordability, speakers offer various policy solutions to help low income households energy costs and address state and federal energy assistance programs united states energy association in washington is the host of this event . >> my name is barry worthington, director of the energy association and this is a usc a briefing addressing energy poverty in
the united states. a federal state utility collaboration. this is a little bit of a different topic for usc a, but one that we are very eager to have a conversation about and i'm hoping that this will be the first of a continuing conversation because the matters that we're going to address this afternoon are taking out of the degree of urgency. always been urgent what i think myself that urgency is growing so thank you for coming we have an excellent panel here today. for our discussion. we hope to have audience participation as well. monitoring in today's session is our luck. mark will provide the discussion and moderate the discussion in the need for energy assistance. he is an economist, and is an
expert on local and regional energy and housingfinancing . he is consulted regularly for federal, state foundation and nonprofit agencies . he's experience at testifying before congress and he is the executive director of the national energy assistance directors association and the energy programs consortium and is the founding partner of project energy savers so again, thank you forcoming and i'll turn it over to mark . >> i'd like to thank the united states energy association forhosting today's session . it's a very important topic, energy poverty in the united states is also a global issue. i'd first like to thank barry worthington and staff and jessica for working with us to put this together.
what is energy poverty? simply put, it's when we can't afford to pay their home energy bill, and a difficult daily choices paying for food, medicine and other essential in order to pay for theirenergy bill . before i talk probably about energy poverty though, i'd like to introduce today's panelist . these are experts in the field of work across areas from associations, corporate association as well as the government. before that i like to say just a word about the national energy assistance directors association. we represent the state directors of low income home energy assistance program, the national program that helps provide block grants to state low income families pay their home energy bill. our first speaker will be haly laasme-mcquilkin. she serves as northeast regional representative on the board of trustees for the national energy assistance
records association. she works with the department of health and human services, the office of community services and the delaware energy and also delaware energy assistance director. he contributed to the 2018 handbook and is one of the most widely known internationally recognized set of common principles in universal standards and humanitarian response. after haly, chris mele will speak, he began his career with the u.s. senate as an inspector and work for vice president george bush and then president bush. since 1998 chris has worked for the national association of regulatory commissioners. is now the legislative director for energy . he is responsible for the legislative advocacy on energy and transportation issues in washington dc. nina moussavi works for american gas association and is passionate about advocacy and politics while she was in
law school and learning about the lasting impact that it can have on history. she's currently legislative analyst at aga . she represents one of 200 national gas companies across the united states. jessica franks will be the following speaker, director of government relations for the edison electric institute . a trade association for investor-owned electric power companies. jessica covers operations, education, workforce issues, i and before that she was government affairs represented in halliburton to work for speaker john boehner and speaker paul ryan. i last speaker is kelly farmer, he associate director for the affordability and energy efficiency division for the district of columbia area she is responsible for the management of energy programs, the fitness program and of course the low income
home energy assistance program. we have a terrific panel and the intent is to provide you with a perspective on energy poverty in our state and out of the address not just through one program through a partnership of states, utilities and local governments all working together to help families pay their home energy bill. so a couple of things in thinking about energy affordability and energy poverty, what does it really mean? it just some broad topic and we hear a lot about poverty in the united states, affordability what specifically is meant by energy poverty ? for low income families if 10 percent of income is what their energy bill represents, almost 4 times the rate for a non-american household so that gives you some perspective of the main point is energy because it's the base need like food, like
clothing, it doesn't rise proportionally with income so a middle income family is paying maybe a little bit more for energy than a low income family because they have a bigger house but at the end of the day it's pretty close to where a low income family might earn twice as much, their energy bill is twice the rate of low income families. when we say that a middle income family will pay 2.4 percent of their income primarily reflects a have more other thing to keep in mind about this that makes it interesting is that energy bills peaked. a peak in the winter, the summer months so if i'll say that about 10 percent of a family income goes for home energy or a low income family, during the winter months or summer months that could be 20 to 25 percent. you see how quickly this becomes unaffordable.
according to the us energy information administration the average cost of home heating this winter was about $1000 . like any other thing, these are averages . for families using propane, the cost is about $1600. for heating growth about $1600, an enormous burden for families earning $25,000 a year. natural gas was 584, reflective of the deeper cost of fracking and the overall growth of natural gas. low income families face agonizing choices every day when they have to buy energy. we surveyed families receiving energy assistance under low income home energy assistance last winter and what we found, while not surprising reflects just how tight their budgets are. when energy prices go up the cause of a variety of factors, for low income families don't have much choice of what to do. they can't say we won't go out to dinner or pay our gas bill, they have to make those
kinds of choices so energy have to be more affordable for that region. 37 percent had closed for their home to save utility costs, 25 percent the temperature on safe. 17 percent couldn't afford to pay their energy go that winter. 36 percent say they went without food for at least today and again it's probably because they had to pay the heating bill. for natural gas and electricity rules in place in terms of job though it's not quite as tired but for those using eating or probing the bill after the day before it's over, 41 percent said it went without medical or dental care 31 percent, these are families making tough choices when they haveto be there energy bill . and the last point i'd like to make about that's becoming
consortingwith the aging of our society , people are in the hospital for short terms, they come home when they need equipment that plugs into the wall. they have to have access to affordable energy. 82 percent of the people who get energy assistance told us they have a disabled person and need electricity for breathing machines or refrigerated medicine . they have to have access to affordable energy, it's a life or death situation for them. not only is energy expensive for the cost of home heating outside of the families control, there are arguments to be made at a family should save up for the winter but you can't do that when you don't know how cold it's going to be so that's going to drive cost of energy orthe amount you need to read it you can't control pricing if you have a in the economy that will drive up the price or you have geopolitical factors . issues in iraq or iran or venezuela, that drive up the
price of oil. all those things very difficult for families plan their energy costs. and lastly i want to talk about low income energy assistance program which may in some ways is the first thing i should be talking about. at the main federal program that helps families pay their home energy bills. it's a lot providing a grant which is redistributed to local agencies to get them help paying their homeenergy bills during the winter . the program is not adequately funded at all. we receive reports billion dollars last year, that sounds like a lot of money but hosted 20 percent of the us population, we can only reach 20 percent, one out of fiveof the eligible population . at the limit of what you can do with $3.3 billion to what the state have done is target the neediest of needy families, about 80 percent that you receive energy
assistance have a family member is disabled, elderly or have ayoung child under the age of six . that really reflects the limitations of what funding has added hundred $50 million to the house for next year. now that might not sound like a lot, but we use $150 million to serve another 500,000 families but that's really the situation. we have a program not adequately funded but it does reach a lot of families does make a difference. i'd like to give you a few examples of how families, in california, to give you more of a context and not as a bunch of numbers, california, a young mother lived in old electrical at electricity set up to bill about $800, therefore by making minimum wage and her husband worked as a seasonal labor so basically a very poor family . with no electricity the
family cannot access water, operating plant california was able to assist the family bible paying their bills also they also refer to the counties weatherization program to help increase the efficiency of our homes to reduce the bill going forward. another example in connecticut a single mother of two facing challenges of being homeless came into 80 for help because if you don't pay your energy bills, you can lose yourapartment, lose your lease . connecticut's connected services received the housing subsidy and $500 in funds allowed her to become under energy bills, $500 doesn't sound like a lot of money but if you don'thave any resources , and you're facing eviction, that can make the difference between staying in the home and being elected . and one last example in colorado, a mother of three raising children on her own because her husband had a stroke and was confined to a care facility . her car wasrepossessed and as you know , she received a shut off notice and could not
allow her children to suffer the cause.she reached out to the state lucky program and received a assistance that allow her to turn her energy back on. and again, these are all, these don't solve the problem of poverty but allows families to continue andstacy . with that i turn it over to halley. our next speaker and one thing i'd like to do is have our speakers provide their thoughts and then open it up to questions you. >> i guess mark really said everything that was, thank you. mark said everything that was very important to say, and mostly what i would want to say also so however, i would like to bring to attention some things here. for example a couple of areas, how this entire journey started was a couple of years ago i started to shift myresearch more towards energy access , i notice that
all the quantitative indicators diverged greatly on their experiences, for example global reports, i know that developed countries have 100 percent energy access while the people on the field and energy vendors, researchers and everybody else were conveying to us at least at the state level totally different story. we had thousands of missed connections, and even in the united states, people use candles and lanterns for activities. they use various unsafe energy sources for heating, you don't have your vision capabilities for patients or personal hygiene because this city has been disconnected. they have thermal imaging of the household are often below world health organization recommended standards of minimal 65 degrees in fahrenheit or a maximum of 86 in fahrenheit. so the question started, why
these reports reflect so poorly what is happening on the field. and the reason is because energy systems are extremely complex. and they issued the report, he tried to minimize all those indicators down into very simple ways to look at the world. so and energy, meanwhile energy is a hybrid system. so energy actually starts to sport and it is important because energy supports all the provisions of basic need. for example, it supports all the cooking, lighting, heating, medical care, education, accessing information and documentation services and in summary in our society it has become common on expectations that energy exists out there somehow magically and we don't have to worry about it and it's a huge support from infrastructure. and it united states, maybe
we haven't done as much. for example, england, the national health services department of health and social care and other nongovernmental agencies have estimated that gold homes across england alone cost 850 million to 1.3 million homes annually which is a huge benefit to society and that is not even count for economic costs like cost reduction and loss of productivity for people who have to stay home . so what are the questions that i think we sometimes don't think about? >> .. >> .. strategies include the aspects
and ability and affordability, reliability and sustainability or do our strategists develop without realizing that we are overlooking some of those important aspects because we don't share our objectives and other stakeholders? for example, when we develop an efficiency program to reconsider their affordability equally across population to include scenarios of human behavior and how they might materialize in the world or do we comprehend our ability in energy consumption and 2 the convexity of household income and how it can influence affordability of energy. to be considered the availability of different energy sources and how they affect household capability energy services and do we comprehend sufficiently the budget constraints differentiate between disposable income and to reconsider human behavior prioritization of the expenses.
energy policies are distinct from and income poverty because most of the research sows energy poverty does not fully overlap with income poverty. for example, the study shows between energy and income inequality even though there's a strong relationship between income poverty and fuel poverty there are more people poor who are not income poor than people who are fuel and income poor and not all the people who are income for our fuel port. so, this includes a huge portion of the moderate in income household. so that is basically the reason why we think this discussion is important that we all can get together and start discussing exactly when we do strategies that we do include as much affordability and availability and reliability and sustainability because i think
often we do strategies we don't think about the inconsistencies of the strategy and how it trickle down to the household level. >> thank you, mark. i'm with the national association of realtor utility commissioners and in short, the organization represents the public utility commissioners throughout the 50 states and territories and my comments here will be my own and are not necessarily the views of any of my members or their state agencies. our primary focus or primary job is to ensure that citizens of the states and territories of safe, reliable and affordable service. my members are, by and large, economic regulators. when you look at the scope of their jobs the -- addressing the
energy poverty is the small end of the scale. mark and i were talking couple of days ago and i alluded to the fact that feel like i will be the skunk in the garden party at this but i think some of these things need to be addressed. being an advocate i look for messages. one of the issues when you're dealing with, be it federal dollars, utility dollars, state dollars is the perception of what happens to it, where it goes and what it affords. that perception of inflows. right now we are in what i think everybody would agree is a pretty good economic times and again, i'm dealing in generalizations here.
if there's a point and outline point i will accept that criticism but in general, we are looking at a good economic system or economic time rather and that does not help us with the message on the need for both weatherization and weatherization is a key component, i might add. congress will be marking up in the house anyway a bill tomorrow which increases as mark mentioned weatherization by 36 million in lighting by 150 million if my memory serves. both of those are key components. i would submit to everyone in this room that yes, the affordability of the bill is important but also ensuring that
folks have a home or apartment, what have you that has the necessary weatherization so the actual bill comes down. that is, i think, the first step. it's a big step. my members do not regulate, for instance, oil, propane, or cold. we are strictly looking at this problem through the lens of electric and natural gas is. i mentioned we have a perception issue. mark also mentioned most of the light recipients are elderly, children, disabled. if you look at the perception
either on capitol hill or in the population in general i would bet that 70, 80% of the public would never think that elderly makeup the lion's share and children and disabled of those recipients of this. i don't know if it's, as an advocate advocate's fault for not getting that out there but i think that is one of information that has to be put forward in order to start addressing the problem is to allow the general proposition to know where the problem lies in who are we helping and who are we trying to help. some would say that's not a big
deal but i would estimate that having wandered capitol hill for over 30 years when you talk to legislators, be state or federal, they want to know why does this money need to be spent anyway and we have a gamut even in my own organization that runs from one side where my heap is a corporate welfare program to get the site where we should not even have lady because it socialized the cost. the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle and it is our job to inform legislators, policymakers and the general public where that sweet spot is. the other perception problem we see and they are all wrapped around the same axle if you wi will, electric and gas prices
over the course of the last, oh, ten years or maybe a little more, in real dollars have been flat. little bit up here in a little there but generally as when you look at all energy out there they been flat. i'm not saying they have not increased and of course, they have moved up but generally it's been flat so when you're dealing with folks that are making policy be state or federal the question comes why do we have to increase the assistance when in real dollars were not seen? you not looking at the price of oil or propane or price of wood so you have that component in there. the other -- i think final thing
i want to bring up is that we've had as high as -- mark, check me if i'm wrong but i think the high water mark for late heap funding was 5 billion or somewhere in that neighborhood? 5.1 and now it's down to -- 2.6. one of the issues that occurs and i think you were talking to mark about it earlier -- no, no, this is good. you have a situation between the cold weather states and warm weather states and the warm weather states obviously are saying you know, my taxpayers are paying for this but i'm not receiving benefit because it all goes to the cold weather states but cold weather states for saying my taxpayers are paying for this were not getting as much as how cold we are.
we can't or we don't want to have a situation where the warm weather states and cold-weather states are fighting for the same resources. that does not help anybody. we have to, again its message in perception but we have to be on the same team and on the same playing field. here i am sitting up here and i'm offering more challenges giving as far as the solutions unfortunately i think that's just the way the panel will go. i think we have more channel in challenges and solutions. [laughter] at the garden party, right here. so, when economic times are go good, in general, you will se see -- i'm talking about call on joe sixpack or sally sweat sock
or mom-and-pop or grandma and grandpa, whatever you want to call them but it's really funny because when the economy is good then they're looking at we've got to cut all this where for programs out because nobody needs them in an economy so good and then when the economy goes bad the same folks are saying i can't afford to pay for someone else because i can barely put food on my own table. there's never a happy medium. this, again, goes back to what i started with an out ended with in my humble opinion we have a perception problem within the -- i will use the big term, advocacy and i think sometimes it hurts our message and what the solution to that? i'll let the smart folks at the
table figure that out but also that out there for discussion purposes. >> thank you, chris. next speaker is nina who works with the american gas association. needed, as well as esther franks will be speaking after her but she works at edison electric and will give you the corporate side of the utilities and how they think about energy affordability and at the end of the day they are the ones serving low income families to provide -- but our programs are designed to help provide them with funding to keep families connected so they can give you a perspective of just how good these programs are and how well they work from their perspective. >> my name is nina and i will start with the disclaimer that these comments and remarks are my own and do not represent that of our member companies. the american gas association like mark that represents over 200 national gas utilities
across america in those utilities serve about 71 million americans so you can imagine this is a program that we are passionately in favor of. it comes as a top ten priority for our companies every single year and that is where i come in with jess and frank to that eei and our role is to make sure that the program is protected in congress and the challenges we face will be different than the ones that chris laid out because of the challenges we face are in the appropriation every single year. we have seen program be zeroed out in budget request from the administration in the last four years and so when that happens it's been on jessica and myself along? and with our other graduate advocates over at the national energy and utility affordability
coalition to go up onto the hill and make sure that were taking the information that holly laid out and mark laid out were able to show our members in congress that it is a program that needs to be protected and not only does it need to be protected but there needs to be robust funding for it. it's always going to be a hurdle when you talk about numbers and its most sensitive topic that you have across the nation and its hard to say this program deserves more money than another program that also helps hard-working american families but were able to take the information that we have and show that energy is a necessity and it's a right to be able to pay your utility bill is something that you should never have to be deciding between taking your medication or putting food on the table and paint your utility bill. when you frame it that way it's hard to be against the program.
it comes the part that comes is how much can we get and how much can we move the numbers around to make sure you're hoping the most americans possible. chris had mentioned the question of why does this money need to be spent in this way and mark laid out all the facts. you have the most vulnerable in our population who are the ones who are the recipients of this program and that is the reason why the money needs to be spent that way. luckily, were talking about a topic that brings everybody together. you would really have an electric utility association and a natural gas association working side-by-side but i don't to any meetings about jessica and i think that shows that this isn't a partisan issue or an issue that these any divide and
we are past with making sure our members committed are able to see that and i will keep mine short and sweet. jessica. >> hello, everyone. thank you, mark for inviting me to thank you for hosting me. i appreciate all your help. i would like to add the disclaimer of my comments are my own and i do work for the edison electric institute which is the investor owned utilities. i would say that something that most people don't know about me that i buy my ipo chargers in bulk and i always have a portable charger on me. i hate the feeling of when the phone is about to die like all of a sudden you feel disconnected from the whole world and it's coming down on you and so i like to keep my phone charged at all times so
i'm not mildly inconvenienced. [laughter] but we talk about assistance were talking about people that are truly the most poor in our society and you have to decide between whether or not they can pay for their electricity were paid for the medicines that would keep them alive. i'm fortunate to be in the position i am in and i can lobby to help people that truly need it. along with nina i work with the national energy utility affordability coalition. >> it's so wordy. >> so much fun to say. [laughter] and together we promote on capitol hill and annually we hosted the action date for we bring in recipients and directors and program coordinators all across the country to come in and lobby congress because frankly, congress gets sick of talking to
me and nina and like to talk to people who are truly recipients of the program and truly on the ground to give those personal stories as a face to this problem. we bring them in and take them all around capitol hill and get their steps in as they walk around and we share that stori stories. >> we see every year who can get the most steps. i haven't one yet. [laughter] >> it's a great event that our member companies will help bring everyone in together to talk about and when we are in those rooms we do let the people on the ground dominate the conversation because these members need to understand the problems from a national perspective but also from right in their backyard. that is where you could get their attention. just for example i happen to be from connecticut. 63% of households that are eligible for this do not receive
it. connecticut received $78.7 million in 2017 still cannot service most people who needed it. of those people who received it 69.4% were vulnerable population so 35% were over 60 and 80% were under and 30% were disabled. these are the people who need the assistance. we talk about this as mark said most of it is block grants and then there's also emergency funding so for instance if there's a big storm in some part of the country we need to help out those who have been hurt there they will take care of that. forty-nine is for heating and 51% is for weatherization or improving the system in crisis assistance. eligibility is for those of 150%
below the federal poverty rate. very, very low. think about the fact that in 2015 the federal reserve says that half of americans can't pay for $400 emergency cost right now is overwhelming how many people need this aid. what nina and i do is go to congress and explain this to them and for the most part members of congress understand and as they listen to the stories and say this is a real need and something that government is here to do but when one of the difficulties with liheap is not an entitlement. has to be appropriated every year. when there are situations where congress is squabbling over some issue and hold up the government from being funded, liheap gets
hurt. if there's a continuing resolution were everything is cap the same you think liheap would be safe but it's not. it's one of those few programs that is paid out in front of mostly with this little line in crs that they if that is the case you should dump it all out so liheap suffers under the resolution as well. these are things we tried to explain on the hill every day to make sure people are thinking about people who need this help. thanks. >> thank you, jessica. her last speaker we invited kenley to speak because she runs the energy assistance program for the district of columbia and i thought now that you have heard about discussions of how it works in the funding issues and the targets we are serving and it gives perspective on how to the state work at the ground level and dnc is a good example
from my perspective of a program that integrates the federal money with state and local fun funds. just for the record, i am speaking for my organization. [laughter] my comments are on the record. >> thank you, mark. enqueue everyone and u.s. energy association for hosting us today. as mark mentioned i am the associate director for the affordability and efficiency division of the district of columbia so i am tasked with managing both our programs as well as our weatherization program and along with a new program tied to water affordability. from the district we think of this in terms of utility affordability at large where were focusing on energy today and also seen water it's a crucial issue for lot of studies including district of columbia.
our program has been designed with the goal towards mitigating utility costs including those homes with the highest utility needs and the greatest utility burdens. it's also the least amount of available resources and we see everyday people who are making the decisions that mark is talking about so they are trying to decide how much do i pay towards my electric bill and how much to pay to my gas bill, water bill, medicine, food for which invitation and it's something that is very real to us and so we are dedicated to that effort in the district of columbia we not only receive the federal grants but the mayor has been in office she's been dedicated to ensuring we don't have to close our doors. in previous years the federal grant ran out we would literally close down our offices, lock the door and we cannot assist people. the last five years we've been
able to keep our doors open which, i think, has been a great benefit to our constituents. it means we are now not dealing with as many households in the state of crisis for a long time which has been i think a great benefit to the city as a whole. just to give you sense in the district -- the district recently surpassed 700,000 residents and about one quarter of those or 27% is eligible for liheap assistance. i think most of you may know liheap assistance, the maximum income level you can go do is 60% state median income in the strict adherence to that maximum level. again, in the district you do have to be responsible for utility bill in some way in order to receive assistance. fiscal year 2017 we served about 40% of the households eligible to receive the pits.
so, we are meeting the demands but at the same time trying to balance that with conducting additional outreach and even driving that demand so definitely a balancing act. even from a day-to-day level much less a week to week level we also tried to maximize the amount that we can give towards weatherization so the rule is to give up to 50% of your liheap weatherization grant and we aim to me that the level of funding each year but again is a balancing act. if you're moving money over to weatherization that could hit your benefit funding level so were looking at that on a week to week level. i wanted to mention and i think mark was especially interested in the district program not only because we dedicate additional local funding towards energy assistance but also because we
have been trying to create a program that is holistic in many ways so not only direct bill assistance like liheap but also the utility discount program so that has to do with decreasing your rates once you are enrolled. there is an electric utility program, gas as well as water and that means now those households have a lower rate on an ongoing basis was a fan and rules. the other thing i mentioned is the water affordability program and the district with a program called solar for all and that has to do with tying the districts clean energy goal with aggressive goals including trying to be carbon neutral by 2050 but at the same time having a length toward equity and ensuring were not leaving anyone behind as we strive to those climate goals. solar for all dedicated to providing the benefits of solar
powered to 100,000 low income households in the district and that income online is a little bit higher than the one i mentioned before so were now trying to get to an even higher level of potential households because we recognize that like a lot of american cities affordability is an issue and housing costs and general costs in urban areas like this can be higher so we see all these programs as being tied to wards affordability at large. the last one i will mention is the program that mark talked about his paid and were trying to use an innovative financing solutions for affordable housing in the district. that is clean energy finance to energy efficiency to bring down our utility usage for affordable housing properties. i've been tasked in this role to
try to bring all these programs together so we are providing comprehensive solutions to these challenges. thank you. >> thank you, kenley. as we said we'd like to see this not just as presentations but also as dialogue among ourselves and the audience with the issue of energy poverty in that space. just to kick it off, i will ask one question to get the discussion going. about 20% of the population -- i will stand up to 20% of the population receives energy assistance yet we've made, i think, compelling arguments why this is in need. why do you think that we don't go beyond 20%? why are we stuck at that level? especially in light of the importance.
>> why are we stuck at only -- spirit yeah, why politically can we go beyond 20%? what is holding us back? bible congress increase funding? what's the problem that we can't seem to get across when we make the case? >> i think that the problem is has multiple branches. i think the biggest one is like i said earlier, there are so many programs and so many worthy programs that need funding that when we are looking at liheap it already receives a lot more than other programs, not to say it does not anymore and i think it should have ten, 11, $12 billion allocated to it because that's the only way we'd serve all the people that need funding. ...
real-life stories to the member offices so they know how this impacts their constituents, and a think that's why we've been seeing incremental increases. i think that's going to be the most realistic way to get to where we need to be as small and committal changes. politically, there isn't a democrat or republican on the hill who is going to say that it needs to jump 2 billion, $3 billion. because there are so many different interests that are going to be pulling at them. when looking at the house going for reelection every two years, there are very few members who are in a position where they can take a stand of one program over
another. that's kind of the issue we run into. >> i'd also like to say that it's important to remember that every year we are starting from zero, right? the president said no more money from i.t. every dollar we get we're very grateful for. >> other comments? >> questions on the audience? i think would like to open this up to questions. we would like to hear your questions or comments. introduce yourself when you speak, if you could. >> my name is alex from usea. i guess to my questions. the first one is what percentage of utilities have kind of a subsidy program to support their liheap programs. so adding an extra or two to my utility bills to subsidize
liheap programs. and then the second question is, how much coordination is a between liheap programs and live tech program so low income programs looking to encourage those programs to have more stringent sustainability or energy efficiency measures? the look love that i look at ia lot of the poor state seem to have the less stringent or least stringent efficiency measures in their litech programs pick . these moving forward that seems like a good way to help take care of this problem. >> so i'll chip in for the utility one. unfortunately, i don't know if there's an exact percentage of their member companies, and there are a lot of like municipal locally run utility companies as well.
but i will say that a lot of our companies have their own programs in addition to liheap, their own programs to make sure their customers are not at risk of shut off. off the top of my head, companies like in texas that the program that, like you said, taxed on it extra couple of sense on to other customers help subsidize those low income folks. it really is a team effort i guess for lack of a better word. the utilities are working on it. the assistance from the federal government is absolutely necessary. i know the states have a lot of their own programs as well. in terms of coordination between liheap and litech, because liheap is one individually by each state, i think that's a question that is more directed at --
>> sure. there is no coordination between litech and liheap, i get fed deathly. the programs are not accorded at all. whether it's in litech is sometime states will put in stringent efficiency requirements in order to win the litech credits, which can help reduce the need for energy assistance. but there are two very separate activities. litech is tied towards building construction or renovation where the others towards energy bills. in a sense we thought holistically about how programs go together, which we don't and the united states. the united states tends to think of thinks separately. we have a separate healthcare program like medicaid, a separate food program, snap, separate energy assistance program. really, really do see all the programs put together an holistic box in thinking about it. how does this help a family, how does this help a community? it's really not how we do things in the trinity in your basic
more of an integration of resources, people think were in terms of public health and energy. different type of discussion, different type of approach. >> you just answered your own first question, and that was why is there not the money there? competition from these various other programs. >> there you go. a holistic approach. >> right. i was very glad that kinley brought up the water issue. this is something you don't think about. if you're in the role part of the country, you lose your electricity, you've lost your water and sewage. you are drawing off a well. that's why it's even that much more important to rural poverty. >> one of the issues in energy assistance and energy affordability and energy poverty, there is no firm definition like this is it, this
is what is, like someone has cancer or heart disease, we know what that is. medicaid knows how to treat it and there's a formula for paying for it. it's fairly black and white. in our case the numbers depend a lot on where you sit, but i thought maybe we would open up to our panel. when you think that energy assistance and energy poverty, how should we define? all we have is a federal definition, but is that sufficient? does that target funds sufficiently? howley has thought a lot about this question so i thought maybe we should start with her. >> well, , maybe help her thougt about this. that's the world i've looked at, there's several things the kind of have bothered me in general, is i know energy poverty falls under image access. and energy access is a really wide area. like i said it includes
liability, availability, sustainability, and other areas. and when you start talking about energy poverty, we sometimes forget those other areas, like well, what if i had money to afford energy, but i really have this connection all the time because i happen to live in rural area? and i still energy for? or yes, i can somewhat afford all my energy but wait a minute, i would like to afford gas because gases when the cheapest ones but there's no gas lines in my neighborhood. that is quite a big reality. there's also no gas line even though that is one of the cheapest ways to heat your house. so for me image access point of view, do you have access the bill have access to that most affordable energy that is out there? definitely, energy poverty would have to include all the areas of
energy access. and if we start solving them like piece by piece, then it might end up the same way that we look at in the global reports and it says you have 100% energy access because some areas might have electricity. but in reality electricity is not the entire energy sector alone. there's also ask, fuel oil, kerosene, propane, and other areas the same way. and the other side like a similar energy poverty, energy poverty is very, very distinct poverty area because, as this to before, it does not always overlap with income poverty. it's not like all the people who are income poor are also energy for. there is never huge proportion
of people are also energy poor because they simply cannot afford it because the difference between gross income and disposable income is very huge. whereas that's the reason, when chris said that while people always ask, the energy prices have been kind of flat, so what's the issue? why do you want more money backs but if you look at the household budget and budget constraints, you can only divide that budget so many ways. so okay, energy prices have been flat, but have also medications been flat? has medical care been flat? have all those other costs for house will been flat? if they are not and to keep increasing, then it doesn't matter the amount of money we contribute to energy poverty is a house prioritizes their medicare first. they still end up being energy poor in the end.
it is more comprehensive society issue that we have to solve, how to make sure all those things that are so necessary for households are affordable. whatever we do, people still do end up being energy poor because they only have so much of disposable income to spend on. >> anybody else? >> kenley? >> i can add to that. in terms of what she is think about competency viewpoint, i think that something we've been very focused on in the district, especially in terms of something jessica mentioned, like our portable chargers and how energy now is related to access to information. something we've been looking at, and there's a new affordable housing property where we installed, it will be the largest solar installation the district. it also includes a battery backup storage for a community room so that there's a refrigerator that can be powered for medicine.
there's places people can charge their phones, because we now live in a modern society where information technology is just a part of day-to-day life. i think we see not only access to energy within your home, but in the event of a storm or sudden emergency event where you are disconnected from energy despite your bills to pay for it. those of us with more resources are able to find somewhere to go to obtain what we need, whereas many people do not have that same access to resources for their phones, for medicine, for other things like that. i think we're also trying to tie this i i did energy poverty in with resilience, which had no is a word that gets overused a lot but in this aspect we are thinking of it in terms of,, particularly like a post store proposed emergency event. >> -- post-storm. >> i don't think a a federal
definition is sufficient. i think that mike chris was saying, there are factors in rural communities that you would not face an urban setting. i think that a federal definition oversimplifies the issue and it makes it so that there are marginalized populations who are being completely left out of this definition. >> i would agree, and i think that sometimes it's just one event that really pushes some into energy poverty. someone gets sick, they lose their spouse or something happens, and maybe holistically that person isn't the poorest of the poor, but when they are in that situation they are running out of options, and that's what government assistance is really helpful. >> the other issue related to this, the poverty is not evenly distributed across the united states. you will have some utilities that could of 30 -40% of the
rate base be very low income, and other utilities where it will be maybe 10%. utilities view the need for energy assistance differently depending on what the rate base looks like. also we have states where we have large numbers of very low income people and there's a limitation of what that state can do to raise funds. sometimes when you look at the kinds of partnerships that reflects the resources available, because energy assistance is a fairly straightforward issue. you have a bill that needs to be paid. it's not like what you do about gangs are immigration, what about healthcare issues, your competition issues that have many, many social implications. energy assistance is very straightforward. very easy to dress in that sense. jessica, do you see an issue among your members the difference in response, depending on what the rate base looks like?
and how the program works with them. is there a difference that you see? >> not really. i think that liheap is a top priority for all of our companies, and actually i'm good to say that definitively it is. because we always have check in points with our member companies to ask them what are their top five priorities or something. they come back and to talk about liheap. i think utilities, they serve a lot of different people and they kind of, i don't want to say are responsible for a lot of people, but they kind of in that being in with a lot of people. and because of that they can be in a position where they are watching the ground, let's say. and yes, certain states look very different but ultimately, even if it's a very, very wealthy state, i still have a significant poor population and a very poor population. our utilities, they go home and see that and they come back as
much as the utilities have mostly poor and they fight for it just as hard. >> i would agree. our board of directors releases a list of priorities every single year, and liheap comes at the top of it and our board is made up of our utility companies. it's regardless whether in the north or the south. it is extremely important for all of our utility companies. i also think though that when you're looking at southern states with oftentimes have higher poverty levels in the northern states, the issue is just different. so yes, you have a higher percentage of folks who are eligible for it, but the eligibility levels in terms of the dollar amount might be less per person versus in the northern states where it's cold most the time and the heating costs are more expensive. i think it all evens out. >> chris, do you see any difference among public service
commissions? you were saying earlier to me they had a wide range of responsibilities. how does energy assistance it within those concerned? >> you can't put a one size fits all answer on that one, mark. i think it's as diverse and divergent as the states are themselves, and the population is. as i said earlier i don't think that there is much difference between my folks in congress or state legislature or even the population in general as to their views. some take the view that we have to make it as easy, to get the aid, not only get the money in, but with the money out.
there are some that would look at socializing all of these costs. then on the other side of the spectrum there are some that would say we've already, we already have too much. i don't think i can give you a singular answer. many states have been very proactive in their programs with the utilities. i mean, maybe i'm just too old for myself here, but i remember when the roundup program was first coming out in pennsylvania. that's where you roundup, i think was mentioned here, you roundup your bill from $102.60, to 103 or whatever. a lot of times my folks are in a position where they have to be the reactive as opposed to the active, and that's to the rate base.
when utility comes up with the pilot or an idea of how to do this, the commission looks at it and they tried to determine whether or not that goes in the rate base. it's really hard to give a a singular answer. >> it reflects diversity in our states. >> what's going to work in new jersey isn't necessarily going to work in new mexico. >> i think we have a question over here. >> hello. my name is reo. i work for the american council for an energy efficient economy. so the panel is speaking about how to address energy poverty as focus on liheap like a main way of. i'm wondering if any of you have thoughts on some of these kind of more holistic solutions that mark has alluded to. chris and can lead both mention energy efficiency as which also
achieve long-term affordability for individuals. i'd love to hear any thoughts you have on ways you assistance can be provided -- combined with other programs or more holistic solution. >> boy, if i had that answer. >> well, part of liheap is set aside for weatherization, for making films more energy efficient. and weatherization is also funded through d.o.e. to its own appropriation. that's one of the priorities for the energy subcommittee at energy commerce this year is making sure that is authorized as was taken care of so that ultimately what ends up happening is that the poor have systems that are more likely to break down, right? and so addressing that will kind of hopefully put everybody on the same starting point so that we can move forward together. >> jessica makes a really good
point. this may sound like a stupid example, but i can tell you from life experience in my younger days, you have a situation where a low income family or an elderly individual, their refrigerator breaks here well, they have a lot invested in that mission. not in the machine itself. i mean what's inside it. that's their food. chances are they are not going out by the most efficient refrigerator. they are getting the one i can get there that day that they can afford because they can't afford $200 worth of food spoilage. so, i mean, how do you wrap those in the same program? i don't think you can under the system we have. should we be able to? yeah, but -- >> at a think the weatherization programs that are in place, both
federally and on the state level, i think a really good job at trying to be proactive about the situation. so rather than having it be once the persons refrigerator breaks down, they need a replacement, going in and assessing their low income customers and seeing what they can do and what they can invest in in their home now to prevent any sort of issue from happening. i mean, i'm not going to speak for everybody but energy efficiency is a goal for most everybody in the utility sector, in the environmental advocacy community, and it would only benefit our low-income communities as well because they are going to have an lower bill all around. i think they just addressed two very different things like mark said. liheap is being able to pay your bill now. weatherization, energy efficiency, those topics all more long-term solutions. >> so i can add one point to
that. such as for example, in the district, 80% of the households that we serve our renters. 35% of households we serve, feminine multifamily buildings. you're looking at, in order to solve this problem you really have to address the multifamily rental sector, which is challenging. the other piece of this as we tried to be holistic in our approach, i mentioned the solar for all program. so solar for all allows for the installation of large-scale community renewable energy facilities, i've been credits or energy from those large-scale solar installations can be applied to low income households energy bills. but you're not truly maximizing that effort if you are not also accounting for energy efficiency. we are definitely focused, like laser focused come on trying to
align those things in particular, direct bill assistance, energy efficiency, and even the addition of clean energy resources. [inaudible] >> not at this time but what we're doing is we're trying to take all of those homes who have received solar power in some way and then kind of feed them to our weatherization program. that's how it's working right now. we're trying to make sure all three of those programs are talking to each other. >> one of the tensions in the program is enough money available. it's not enough. we survey every few years families receiving energy assistance. we did the survey. we got $5 billion. about 10% of the recipients said that their furnace was broken. when we surveyed recipients last year when we had about 1.5 billion less, the number of
people reporting broken or furnace is in need of repair or replacement, it doubled. so what it showed was that states are making tough choices with reduced funding. and one thing that is god is our duty to repair furnaces and replace them. so again, part of the issue is resources. efficiency is of course extremely important, and we spend about 10% or about 350 million a year of the funds we use for efficiency. we could find a lot more, there's no question. yes? >> thanks very much for the comments today. i'm with the institute and alliance. we know that we can dramatically reduce the load of buildings, one, by retrofitting or weatherization, building new. the district is looking at putting passive houses, one of
the standards for the future building, and the alliance about bringing direct-current inside the house. solar produces direct-current. batteries used direct-current, any appliance with an electronic center used direct-current but we've got to go through this conversion. so if we had an energy efficient envelope and direct-current, we would dramatically reduce the load of each house. and then if we thought in terms of a city block, with the direct-current micro-grid, that could aggregate all those houses, then we really got something that changes the nature of the grid and really impacts this. because that's a long-term thing, right? this is, i don't know how many presentations i've been to in the last ten years here in d.c. on this issue.
is anybody taking a a clean sle approach and look at it holistically as to how we can move forward, say ten years down the track? >> so i would say that there is an appropriation under the department of energy that congress will appropriate for building technologies, which is for residential and commercial buildings, and making them more energy efficient. one of the things the government is able to do with these partnerships come with universities, issues the best and brightest around the country to come up with the technologies that are going to make things more efficient and just better for everyone over all. that's something that eei is very supportive of because our companies don't take customer dollars and then spend it on things that may or may not work. but when the government can partner with universities and say okay, how do we get this to work, , how do we make this better? that something we are very
supportive of, and to do that on an annual basis. i'm not sure of the specifics about national labs, whether they start from a clean slate or not, but i'm sure they do a good job. >> searches from the district perspective, we had a coalition of kind of local leaders who went to belgium to study the passive house standard. i think we are always trying to seek out all potential solutions. the d.c. current issue is one of my personal favorites, so i would love to see more activity in that regard. but yeah, as a district we always trying to kind of drive towards the best solutions. >> i'm not sure if this is directly on point, but i'm kind of the philosophy, you know, the kiss philosophy, keep it simple stupid. with meeting the stupid one. if you look at what is using the energy in a low income house,
this is in no order, furnaces, specifically in the north, air-conditioning, specifically in the south, hot water, and keeping your food cold. focus on those four appliances. >> the trouble is -- >> i know there's lots of trouble. i said keep it simple. >> the national association of appliance manufactures sees no market for direct current. and yet there are 4 billion people in the world who you have no electricity, poor electricity connection, still cooking with fossil fuels, or no internet access. that's 4 billion. there are 380 million in this country. the u.s. could pull its resources together, and it's a huge market out there that would
not only impact of that, but would retroactively impact of this. the other thing that's not being talked about is the vulnerability of the grid to attack. and we need to break it up soon, and i should also be part of town discussion. >> it certainly is. i mean, under d.o.e. they have seizure office. dhs, they office dedicated to making sure the grid is safe it's the top priority for utility companies, because we can only imagine what would happen if the grid isn't secure. that's definitely a top priority. >> ditto. [laughing] >> it's just not being talked about i think in the same kinds of conversations. but i think a lot of that has to do with, like again, everything revolves around money, where funding is coming from.
when you are looking at a program like liheap, , it is coming out of the labor they just appropriations bill. so we're not looking at it the same way the seizure office be looking at their funding. there is definite coordination going on, but but i think theye a lot of different issues. >> thank you so much. i work on rural electrification all around the world, but primarily sub-saharan africa. and so, many of those governments, those utilities are looking at decentralized electricity because they don't have the funds to build a whole grid system. and so such as like solar home systems and that sort of thing. so are we looking at energy poverty in america too much in the lens of the traditional utility model? instead of alternative solutions and developing similar to the
work we are doing in developing countries. >> solar home systems providing the means instead of just energy efficiency, providing the means for these homes don't necessarily need to be linked tp to utility, be connected to the grid, and pay those bills. that would mean we would have to find a way to provide them with electricity, solar panels on house, i think kinsley was speaking to that. and energy storage solutions. >> well, who would like to go first? >> i think when you're looking at the population of people who are at risk of having their service cut off, you're not
looking at people who are necessarily in a position where they build their home, so they're able to make the decision to have their home be entirely on solar panels. and when you're looking at affordability of energy, the more traditional energy resources are going to be the ones that are most affordable for folks. i think that's just not a conversation that a family who is a united states recipient is going to be having when they're trying to decide whether they are able to pay their bill or not is, well, maybe we can turn our whole house solar and not be connected to any utility. that would like help solve our problem. that's just have a bit more like a separate issue and looks more at when new developments are being built, can these houses be built with salt and necessarily need to be connected to refill the line? so yeah, i think it might not be
a conversation that is even in the realm of the same conversations as their having when they're you're trying to o pay their utility bills or buy groceries that day. >> so in the district, we do a lot of direct installations for low income households, but typical district house is kind of a federal style rowhouse. you can't put enough panels on that house to fully power the home, and so then in terms of reliability for that home, it needs to be connected to the grid. that's ensuring that everyone in that household has access to buyer at all times. so that's kind of more specific to an urban environment. i think in terms of what we were discussing about energy poverty, we would not want to pursue kind of a policy where people would at certain points in time due to weather or other circumstances
not have access to power. >> i think that's what we do in general. i notice too that we do it even if the household has a way to get energy from a solar farm or anywhere else, we still keep them connected to the grid and try to help them to pay the electricity, just in case. because that seems to be utility side seems to be more reliable than just at this moment a least technological developments, i guess having got so far to catch up with it. >> there was an article in this mornings express action on energy access that was talking about how the navajo nation has a huge problem with people who are not connected to the grid at all. i was wondering, does anybody have any kind of data or feeling
or look into in this country how many people do not have energy access or not connected to the grid, or in your individual states or industries? >> i'll start. that's exactly my point. that really bothers me that the united states doesn't have 100% access because i don't think we do. probably part of the reason is we really don't collect the data, and very likely will be also don't do is probably field type mapping to find exactly how to do all areas, electricity and gas lines going in all areas where people are forced to take the more expensive fuel choice like propane for fuel oil or kerosene. and going back to the energy access and the previous comments, there was something really important. mark mentioned when we were talking about energy efficiency, utilities are doing a really
good job about energy efficiency, and we've gone really long way, but i think we sometimes don't think about how the energy efficiency materializes in the reporting world. for example, and we only look at how much quantity the household is using on energy, and we are thinking but at the household using really low point, maybe 3000-kilowatt hours annually, that they must be really efficient household. we totally ignore the fact it could be a house with a stop energy efficient, even though they get the spot reports, you are very energy efficient, best in the neighborhood. they cannot afford energy. it's like we have really not thought through all the way when we design those kind indicators, what those indicators really mean. that's why these kind of talks is really important when you do those kind of strategies that you talk with all the
stakeholders who understand also the other side, how your indicators actually realize the real world. >> a question in the back. >> our central mission here is to increase energy access around the world. so kudos to the entire panel for bringing this to light. this question is probably better suited to jessica or nina. have you guys change anything you're saying of vail, structured to, in the context of climate change to maybe get attention of the lawmakers? >> i haven't. nina, have you? >> i have not either. i have not either. and the simple reasoning being that it's, climate change is very controversial topic and we're trying to convince every member that they need to be in favor of this program and they need to protect it.
in terms of our advocacy efforts, it's not worth it to bring in that topic because it also doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with making sure that every american has access to energy. i think it's definitely a tangential issue. the avid i normally take is highlighting how many people in their district are eligible, how may people in their district are not receiving funds. the choices the folks are having to make in their day-to-day lives. because i also think that somebody receiving liheap funds and someone who is having to make the choice between paying their utility bill or buying groceries is also not necessarily thinking about climate change as their number one issue that they are worried about the that are thinking about can i put food on the table for my kids and keep our home when it is negative 25 degrees fahrenheit outside. i think it's just not a topic that comes up in our meetings.
>> we don't specific address climate change, but we are concerned about weather conditions becoming hotter. we are seeing cooling be used more in the midwest now, in the north east than the past. our basic approach is that as congress considers adaptation bills, , for lack of a better phrase, rainfall, those kinds of things, that energy efficiency should be included. as we go forward a couple of income families are the least able to adapt to hotter temperatures and more extreme weather. it's not just the problem of course in the united states to use poor countries being in the same situation, but we want to make the point that climate change and climate change adaptation should include provisions to help low income families adapt, whether it's installing cooling systems in their home, having just more funds available to pay for cooling. it's just a very real problem, and because liheap tends to
think of just next year, we don't have tenure perspective, it's very important to start thinking about that especially as congress, even though my guess is nothing going to go anywhere this year, that congress consider strategies, we want them to think about how to help low-income families adapt to climate change. over there. >> thank you. j morrison with the rural electric cooperatives. the high cost of delivered fuels has come up a couple of times. he is conversion from delivered fuels to high efficient electric appliances and equipment part of the conversation here? >> any comments from the group? >> it should be. [laughing] >> there you go. it is part of the conversation. and you see some states that focus on conversion but liheap
funds cannot be used for conversion. but when we do efficiency we focus on high energy star type appliances, , insulation. there's over all effort to help increase efficiency of homes because that has reduce demand for energy assistance and the need for assistance. we have time i think for one last question. yes, sir. >> recently there was an article in the hill on houses as part of infrastructure. have you thought about how you could include your issue as part of infrastructure? >> our funds cannot -- weatherization funds cannot be used for new construction. that's part of the law. but again, in terms of infrastructure for affordable housing, most efficient construction makes the biggest difference in terms of what drives the need for assistance. in the last comment from our
audience -- i'm sorry, from our panel. >> i i want to add today. i knew even though our funds, liheap funds cannot be used for those kinds of things, often we do work liheap in cooperation with other programs who do like healthy homes to help and obviously we can help with weatherization but that's more the quality of the well being for the household, from the public point of view. so healthy homes is mostly the one that helps us assess all of the portions to get the better dwelling. >> okay. i'd like to thank our panelists. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> mark thank you for this
topic. this is a new conversation for the united states energy association, but it's the conversation that we very much want to be a part of. we look forward to helping continue the conversation and helping to cast a a little bitf light on the challenges and issues that we all face. as an industry we are very proud of the fact that we think we've been keeping bills low. at one of our recent meetings it was commented that the average home today is paying $1100 less for all energy, not just natural gas and electricity, but gasoline and four other derivative products. we are very proud of prices being monitored. what the average prices are doesn't mean much if you can't pay your bill, as it is. again mark, thank you for organizing this. let me thank each of the panelists for participating, and let's continue the conversation. if you would join the one last
time and thanking our panelists and mark. [applause] >> thank you very much, and we are adjourned. thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations] >> join us tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span for remarks from retired harvard law professor alan dershowitz. he spoke about the mueller investigation, freedom of speech and his criminal defense work for clients like o.j. simpson and jeffrey epstein. here's a preview. >> i never met the woman. i never heard of her. i never met her, and she, because the e-mails recently that were sealed. they tried to steal. they first tried to keep 60. we subpoena the e-mails. the lawyers for said they didn't
have any of we finally got them. in the e-mails she admits that in 2011, which is nine just after she planchette sex with the concept of times and places i never was at, islands can righteous, and for my own house she said i sex with her, and then she came into my house. at the time i had a young daughter. we had video disability adding that she said you at sex with me in 2002. 2011 she writes an e-mail proving she never heard of me. she has to be told dershowitz kapisa guy who represented klos thank you k-uppercase-letter mr. you should put them in your book. this is all in e-mails. you should put in your book because he will help you sell the book. so then she puts me in the book as someone she did not have sex with. she said she had sex with professor steve ritchie h-uppercase-letter at sex with lesley wexler vixie sentient sex with the george mitchell. she said jed sex with bill richardson but she said jed sex with, you name it.
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>> the u.s. senate comes back into session monday september 9 with two important issues on their agenda, avoiding a government shutdown, , and anti-gun violence legislation. before senators return, a behind-the-scenes look with c-span's history program the standard, , conflict and compromise. here's a preview. >> the very government under which we live was created in the
spirit of compromise and mutual concession. >> thomas jefferson question before a senate. >> the framers believed -- >> let's follow the constitution. >> the framers established the senate to protect people from their rulers and as a check on the house. >> the state of this country may be in the world lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate, complex and compromise, using original images, c-span feed of archives and unique access to the senate chamber. we will look at the history, traditions and roles of the u.s. senate. sunday at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. >> a hearing on diversity and inclusion in the intelligence community peer what does is talk of efforts to recruit and retain a workforce including women and people of color. the house intelligence