Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

Oregon Department of Justice - Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum
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AG MYERS & GOV. KULONGOSKI ANNOUNCE DISTRIBUTION OF $12 MILLION IN GRANTS TO ASSIST OREGONIANS WITH HOME WEATHERIZATION AND PAYING ENERGY BILLS

November 22, 2005

Attorney General Hardy Myers today joined Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski in announcing nearly $12 million in grants for home weatherization and bill paying assistance for low income Oregonians. The grants are expected to assist about 15,000 Oregon households with bill payments and weatherize the homes of over 1,000. In addition, Governor Kulongoski announced a new Oregon Office of Energy website, www.warmoregon.org, which provides resources to help Oregonians keep warm while saving money and energy.

"This winter too many Oregonians will be forced to choose between food and heat," said Kulongoski. "I thank Attorney General Myers for his commitment to addressing this critical need and ask all Oregonians to step forward and help."

The grants provide $5.5 million to help pay the energy bills of low-income households. The resources will be allocated through 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). Such assistance has amounted to about $300 per household in a typical heating season in the past; however costs are expected to rise significantly during the coming winter months.

Another $4.5 million is being allocated to weatherize low-income dwelling units, including existing housing and new, energy-efficient housing yet to be built through programs conducted by OHCS.

"This winter Oregonians will be faced with record heating bills," Attorney General Myers said. "These grants will have an immediate and lasting impact on the Oregonians most victimized during the price spikes of 2000 and 2001."

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, LLC, a Portland-based organization specializing in environmental research. Oregon HEAT already received a grant of $250,000 from the Meyer 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 also will 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 also will 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 $1.8 million for continuing enforcement efforts.

A complete list of grant recipients is attached.

The new website, www.warmoregon.org, is a product of the Oregon Department of Energy. The website is designed to provide Oregonians with an array of resources to help contain energy costs both at home and at work. The site includes information on weatherization, bill paying, energy use reduction, and offers many other important energy-related tips designed to save Oregonians money and preserve resources.

The grants are the result of settlements with El Paso Corp. and Duke Energy. The settlements conclude a coordinated investigation into allegations of price manipulation and antitrust violations in the Western power market initiated in January 2001 by the attorneys general of Oregon, California and Washington. So far, the investigation has resulted in settlements totaling over $2 billion, of which approximately $50 million has been allocated to Oregon.

Recipient or Project

Amount

What Would Be Accomplished

ICNU

$1,135,000

Refund to industrial customers

Bill-paying; divide funds between OHCS & OR HEAT

$5,507,000

Help about 15,000 low-income Oregon households to pay their energy bills

OHCS, for weatherization

$4,506,000

Weatherize about 1,016 low-income dwelling units, including existing housing and construction of new, energy-efficient low-income housing (facilitated by providing weatherization funds)

HACSA/EWEB Solar Water Heater Program

$320,000

Install solar hot water heaters in 75 low-income homes & develop template for such programs

Lane County HSC/EWEB Energy Share Plus

$180,000

Integrated program services, energy education, efficient appliances, & some bill payments, for low-income households, including extremely low-income, elderly & disabled; replace 63 appliances with energy-efficient ones

Community Energy Project, Inc. (Portland)

$125,000

Workshops, training & in-home weatherization kits for extremely low-income, making extensive use of volunteers; expand program

OHCS/E2C2

$809,991

Fund case manager positions to assist phased statewide roll-out of holistic services model linking energy assistance to weatherization/other services at 18 CAAs

OR HEAT/Energy Smart

$350,000

Provide services & gather/analyze data to develop holistic self-sufficiency program model & advocate funding from utilities & other sources

Contact:

Anna Richter-Taylor, Governor's Office, (503) 378-6496 |
Kevin Neely, Department of Justice, (503) 378-6002 |
Larry Dillenbeck, OHCS, (503) 986-2009 |
Diana Enright, Department of Energy, (503) 378-8278 |
Roger Rees, Oregon HEAT, (503) 612-3790 |
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