Atlanta launches fund aimed at reducing power bills, energy burden

The entrance of Atlanta City Hall, early 2021.

Emil Moffatt / WABE

This coverage is made possible through a partnership between WABE and Grist, a nonprofit environmental media organization.

The City of Atlanta is starting a new fund to help low-income residents lower their energy bills. The Community Energy Trust Fund initiative is part of the city’s broader efforts to address climate change.

The fund will pay for clean energy projects and efforts to reduce Atlantans’ energy bills through steps like improved energy efficiency. The Atlanta City Council has approved a $500,000 transfer from the city’s affordable housing fund to get the effort started.

Council member Liliana Bakhtiari, who co-authored the measure, said the overall goal is to reduce the energy burden, or the share of income that Atlanta residents spend on energy bills.

“A lot of Atlantans are having to choose between going to a doctor and feeding themselves and keeping their utilities on,” they said.

The fund will fall under the City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, which will develop a program to administer it. While there are no details yet, Bakhtiari said the emphasis will be on solutions like weatherization that can cost a lot upfront but have an ongoing impact on power bills.

“My priority is always going to be on the longer term solutions to ensure that we’re not putting a band-aid on something,” they said.

More funding for the initiative will come from the city budget, clean energy credits and, city leaders hope, future grant funding.