Poverty and Energy Burden
QUESTION(S) Answered
What is the community-level relationship between energy burden and poverty in Washington?
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This map shows the proportion of individuals in Washington communities living at or below the federal poverty line (annual income $26,500), paired with average energy burden (percentage of annual household income spent on energy costs).

Despite efforts to provide affordable energy to the non-urban parts of the state, rural communities in Washington State have a median energy burden that is 1.5 times greater than their urban counterparts, ranging from 2–8%, as compared to 1–5% in urban communities.

This means that a person making the median income in Washington State ($77,006) could pay $770-$3,850 on energy bills in an urban community, versus $1,540-$6,160 in a rural one. The costs associated with energy bills are often made more significant by compounding socioeconomic challenges, such as increased housing burden and lessened economic opportunities.

Note: For the Community-Defined Decarbonization project, the definition of a rural community is a census tract that lies beyond a metropolitan tract (including micropolitan, small town, and rural tracts). Read the full Community-Defined Decarbonization report here.

How to Use

The map is divided into census tracts, which are color-coded to show the community-level relationship between the proportion of poverty and average energy burden. Black lines indicate counties and red lines indicate Tribal Lands.

The darkest green (top right square in the legend) indicates communities with both high proportions of poverty and high average energy burden. The blue (bottom right) indicates communities with high energy burden but low proportions of poverty, while the light green (top left) shows communities with low proportions of poverty but high energy burden.

Lastly, the light yellow (bottom left) shows areas that have both low proportions of poverty and low average energy burden. Note: The white area between Yakima County and Franklin County is Hanford, a decommissioned nuclear production site where no one is permitted to live within 35 miles and hence is not a census tract.

Click on the map to see associated data, including the rurality of the census tract (rural or urban). Use the + and – buttons in the upper left to zoom in and out of different census tracts and use the search bar in the upper righthand corner to search for an address.