National Black Chamber Urges Congress to Oppose Federal Renewable Energy Standards

The National Black Chamber of Commerce today sent a letter to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus urging members to oppose any legislation that would implement federal renewable energy standards. In the letter, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the NBCC, cited the negative effects such legislation will have on African Americans and on black owned businesses. The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Member:

The National Black Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to educating, empowering and sustaining African American communities through good policy and entrepreneurship. We are particularly concerned about policies that will have an economic effect on African American families and on African American owned businesses.

Recent discussions about federal renewable energy standards (RES) are of particular concern to the National Black Chamber of Commerce. These standards, that require states to accept a “one size fits all” approach to energy usage by mandating a certain percentage of energy coming from “renewable” sources, will have disproportionally negative effects on our communities and particularly our businesses.

Affordable and efficient sources of renewable energy vary greatly from state to state. Under a federal RES, these variances will cause many states without “renewable” sources of energy to purchase energy credits from other states. This cost will ultimately be passed on to families or businesses in the form of higher energy bills. Because lower income families tend to spend more of their income on energy costs, these standards are particularly troubling for African American families and businesses we represent.

Studies show that families earning less than $50,000 spend an average of 20 percent of their net income on energy bills. Sixty-six percent of African American families earn less than $50,000 annually, compared to 48 percent of Caucasian households. Additionally, African American families that earn less than $30,000 annually spend more than 27 percent of their net budgets on energy related bills. Energy costs already affect our community; increased energy costs will cause more hard choices about paying bills or feeding our families.

Those same increases in energy costs will also be felt by the one million plus black owned businesses in this nation. Many of those businesses will be forced to make hard decisions on whether they can continue to make payroll in the face of rising energy costs as a result of a federal mandate on renewable energy.

Federal Renewable Energy Standards are an example of well intentioned policy putting an unfair burden on unintended victims. On behalf of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, I urge you and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus to oppose any legislation that would implement federal renewable energy standards.


Harry Alford

President and CEO