Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, Oregon Department of Energy and Community Energy Project are the recipients of final grant awards derived from a series of settlement agreements with energy companies after investigations of allegations of price manipulation and antitrust violations in 2000 and 2001 during the West Coast energy crisis.
"These settlements are a positive outcome from unfortunate events that involved taking advantage of Oregon citizens," said Governor Kulongoski. "These grants bring new investments that will benefit the lives of many vulnerable Oregonians."
To date, investigations by Myers and other state Attorneys General have resulted in settlements totaling over $2 billion, of which approximately $50 million has been allocated to Oregon.
"Once again, I am pleased that the State of Oregon is in a position to translate settlement dollars into community investments," stated Myers. "Distributing these grant awards closes a sad chapter in our state's history in which Oregonians were victimized by price manipulation of the energy market," he added. "I am proud that we were able to negotiate a 'win' for Oregonians."
The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCSD) received a $1,060,294 grant to weatherize homes through settlement funds from Reliant Energy, Inc. This is the third major settlement grant distributed by the state for OHCSD energy assistance and weatherization efforts. An estimated additional 367 homes will be weatherized through the grant, resulting in individual household savings of $354 per year.
"The 67,000 poorest households in Oregon are paying over 36% of their household budget toward energy costs," OHCSD director Victor Merced noted. "Conserving energy through weatherization moves families toward self-sufficiency by giving them more independence with their income."
The Community Energy Project (CEP) was the recipient of two grants: $128,372 to expand two weatherization programs that teach simple weatherization measures to low-income families and install such measures for households of senior citizens and people with disabilities, and $120,000 to develop a 'train-the-trainer' program to help other organizations provide similar energy education services to communities throughout the state. The CEP grants are the result of negotiated settlement agreements with Duke Energy and El Paso Corp. and with Reliant Energy.
"We are a small grassroots organization and are honored to receive these awards. We feel that they are an affirmation that the state recognizes empowerment, working person-to-person, as a valuable strategy in solving social and economic problems. Their investment at the grassroots level is a direct investment in our communities," said CEP Executive Director Sherry Burbach.
The final grant award was distributed to the Oregon Department of Energy to establish the Community Renewable Energy Feasibility (CREF) Program to support feasibility studies for community renewable energy projects so as to reduce Oregon's dependence on fossil-based energy sources and promote sustainable economic development for communities throughout the state.
Stephanie Soden, (503) 378-6002
Rem Nivens, Governor's Office, 503-378-6496
Floyd Smith, Housing and Community Services Department, 503-986-6747
Lou Torres, Department of Energy, 503-378-3637
Sherry Burbach, Community Energy Project, 503-284-6827 ext. 102