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Lesson from the Telephone Lifeline Program Add to Concerns About Using Utilities to Deliver Low-Income Climate Rebates

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Publication Date: July 2008

Publisher(s): Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Washington, D.C.)

Author(s): Matt Fiedler

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)

Keywords: Utilities costs; Income diversity; Household income

Type: Report


Protecting the budgets of low-income consumers is a critical issue in the design of climate-change legislation. The climate change bill recently debated in the Senate proposed delivering assistance to low-income consumers primarily through local utility companies. However, evidence from the only existing federal program that delivers low-income assistance through utility companies — the Lifeline program for telephone service — strongly suggests that an untried utility-based mechanism would miss large numbers of consumers who could be reached using proven alternatives.