Characterizing the Energy Burden of Urban Households in Mexico: The Impact of Socioeconomic and Temperature Conditions Across Metropolitan Areas

Anahi Molar-Cruz, Sergio A. Huezo Rodríguez, Thomas Hamacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The transition toward sustainable cities requires evaluating current energy policies to reshape established patterns of energy supply and use. Ignoring socioeconomic and geographic differences among households in the energy policy-making process jeopardizes the government's ability to achieve a fair distribution of resources and advance energy equity. Hence, tailored urban energy strategies that address specific opportunities to improve local sustainable development and energy justice are needed. In this paper, we use the energy burden, i.e., the share of household income spent on energy services, as a metric to characterize energy affordability for urban households in Mexico. We estimate the electricity and gas consumption as well as their resulting financial burden for 17,850 urban households in 72 metropolitan areas. The calculated median monthly energy consumption of Mexican urban households is 453 kWh and is dominated by gas consumption. This results in a median energy burden of 3.5%. However, we observe a large diversity among households in energy consumption and, consequently, in energy burden, due to variations in energy use among urban households derived from their socioeconomic and geographic conditions. In addition, we analyze the role of the temperature-based residential electricity subsidy. We find that even with subsidized electricity prices, the current subsidy scheme is insufficient to alleviate energy vulnerability in urban Mexico, and at the same time, it has a regressive effect by benefiting those consuming more. Based on the analysis of the energy burden at the city level, we highlight evident problems and potential solutions missed by one-size-fits-all energy policies. This analysis provides a better understanding of the drivers and distribution of energy burden in urban households. It also presents practical insights that could help policymakers ensure that energy is available to all households according to their needs and that demands for reductions in energy consumption as well as for adoption of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures come from each according to their capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number662968
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Cities
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Mexican metropolitan areas
  • electricity consumption
  • electricity subsidy
  • energy burden
  • gas consumption
  • urban households

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