Governor Ted Kulongoski and Attorney General Hardy Myers lend a helping hand to low income Oregonians as winter approaches.

Governor Ted Kulongoski and Attorney General Hardy Myers announced nearly $12 million in grants for home weatherization and bill paying assistance for low income Oregonians. In addition both offices have launched a new website to help Oregonians access information about energy assistance programs as well as energy saving, and cost-saving strategies. (

"This winter too many Oregonians will be forced to choose between food and heat, and I thank Attorney General Myers for his commitment to addressing this critical need – but we all have a responsibility in making sure our fellow citizens have their basic needs met because we all benefit when we have healthy families and strong communities," Governor Ted Kulongoski said. "I encourage all Oregonians to access the new website, learn about how you can cut your own energy costs and most importantly, find out how you can help a friend or neighbor during these winter months."

The grants secured by the Attorney General through utility settlements are expected to assist about 15,000 Oregon households with bill payments and weatherize the homes of more than 1,000 families. The settlement a result of an investigation of El Paso Corp. and Duke Energy, which initiated by the Attorney Generals of California, Washington and Oregon in January 2001.

$5.5 million of the grant will work through the Non-profit Oregon Heat, ( a non-profit company committed to raising and coordinating resources to help low-income Oregonians meet their household energy needs and move them toward energy self-reliance, and Oregon Housing and Community Services. (OHCS) In the past Oregon Heat has been able to secure about $300 per household in a typical heating season. However, there is a concern more will be needed as gas prices increase.

A grant also will fund research to show the cost-effectiveness of low-income energy assistance. Sponsored by Oregon HEAT, the research will be conducted by Quantec, Inc., a Portland-based organization specializing in environmental research. Oregon HEAT already received a grant of $250,000 from the Meyer’s Memorial Trust, and today’s grant of $350,000 brings the total to $600,000. Results of the research will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of providing assistance to ratepayers rather than relying on termination and collection activities that may force those unable to pay their bills to abandon their dwellings.

The grants will also provide about $800,000 to support a statewide case management system through OHCS. Case managers based at Community Action Agencies (CAAs) will focus on program integration and consumer education, so that families seeking help to pay bills will also be able to access additional services such as weatherization and conservation training. Such integration is increasingly important as the need for bill-paying assistance continues to grow while the resources available for assistance are shrinking.

Some smaller programs are also included in the grant distribution. For example, Myers allocated $320,000 to install solar hot water heaters in 75 low-income homes and develop a template for such programs. Another $180,000 will fund Energy Share Plus, a Lane County program that integrates services including energy education, efficient appliances, and some bill payments for low-income households, including extremely low-income, elderly and disabled Oregonians. And the Attorney General has allocated $125,000 to Portland-based Community Energy Project, Inc., to expand its program, which makes extensive use of volunteers to provide workshops, training and in-home weatherization kits for extremely low-income Oregonians.

The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection and Education Account will receive $1.2 million for continuing enforcement efforts.

Posted on November 29, 2005
Front Page News, Oregon's Helping Hand