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Deadly Heat Wave Shows Importance of Summer Energy Assistance

Deadly Heat Wave Shows Importance of Summer Energy Assistance

September 15, 2021

Is it just us, or can Oregon not catch a break?

Just a few months after the Valentine’s Day storm left western Oregon covered in ice, a record-breaking heat dome descended at the end of June. We all know what happened next: multiple days spent above 100 degrees and hundreds of people dead across the Pacific Northwest.

Sadly, most Oregonians died alone and at home. Many didn’t have air conditioning installed, or their unit was broken, leaving them with no protection against the brutal heat.

But even if A/C were installed, we can surmise that some may have been reluctant to use it. A/C can be a lifesaving resource, but it’s also prohibitively expensive.

We know from surveys that many low-income households try and push through extreme weather events rather than drive up their bills by turning on the A/C or the heat in winter.

Oregon has enjoyed mild weather for much of its modern history. But as climate change accelerates and events like this become more common, it’s critical that our neighbors have the support they need. As detailed in our summer newsletter, OEF has expanded to a year-round program to provide energy assistance during the summer. The heat dome is a tragic example of just how necessary this is.

No one should be forced to leave the A/C off during a heat wave. As we prepare for more extreme weather, please help us ensure no one loses their life because they can’t afford to keep themselves safe.

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