FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, September 30, 2022
Alessandra de la Torre, 541-841-6196, Alessandra@RogueClimate.org
Community-Wide Efforts Result in Discount Program to Reduce Energy Bills for Low-Income Households
[MEDFORD, OR] — Low-income families in Oregon can soon enroll in a program that will significantly reduce their energy bills. As a result of statewide community organizing efforts led by environmental justice organizations to pass the Energy Affordability Act (HB 2475) in 2021, Pacific Power’s low-income discount program will be launched on Saturday, October 1, 2022. Households who enroll in this program could receive as much as a 40% discount on their monthly utility bills.
With the passage of the Energy Affordability Act in Oregon’s 2021 legislative session, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has granted authority for investor-owned energy utility companies to provide more flexible rate options to reduce energy burden for low-income customers.
“Our communities worked hard in 2021 to win this critical bill, which will have a big impact on families that experience the most financial hardships,” said Alessandra de la Torre, Rogue Climate’s Advocacy & Programs Director. “As we experience more extreme heat and smoke due to climate change, it’s important that the most vulnerable communities have affordable, reliable energy sources that will keep them safe, healthy, and comfortable in their homes. While there is still more work to do to secure household energy saving options like weatherization, reducing the cost of energy bills will provide some relief for families who have had to make sacrifices due to the high cost of utilities.”
Energy burden, which is the share of someone’s income that goes toward energy bills, has increased as people use more energy, inflation rises and sources of income dry up. According to a 2020 study by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), energy burden disproportionately impacts rural communities, low-income communities, and communities of color. In 2020, OHCS reported that more than 17,000 households in Jackson County and over 6,000 households in Coos County were experiencing energy burden.
Customers who wish to enroll in this program can do so by contacting their utility provider for information on how to apply. Households should also watch for mailers, phone calls, and website updates from their energy utility about their discount programs. Pacific Power customers who are registered in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or the Oregon Energy Assistance Program (OEAP) will be automatically enrolled in the program.