In Her Own Words: Billi

In Her Own Words: Billi

Billi stands with her husband and three songs on an outdoor patioBilli is a member of OEF’s Board of Directors and works as an Administrative Services Manager at West Oregon Electric Co-op. Here’s why she loves Oregon Energy Fund: 

“With experience working in customer service for an electric utility, I can easily say Oregon Energy Fund’s mission holds a special place in my heart. As a customer service worker in the utility industry, you hear from customers often that they must choose between paying for electricity or putting food on the table. For me, the best part of working this position was connecting my customers with organizations like Oregon Energy Fund to help them through the hard times and keep the lights on. I am honored to be a part of Oregon Energy Fund and will continue to support their mission any way I can.”  

Thank you, Billi! Please join her in supporting OEF’s mission of helping Oregonians in financial crisis pay their energy bills.  

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OEF Raises Over $30,000 To Help Launch 2021 Summer Funding

OEF Raises Over $30,000 To Help Launch 2021 Summer Funding

As the days grow hotter and the need for cooling grows, we’re thrilled to announce that Oregon Energy Fund has raised over $30,000 to help expand our energy assistance program into the summer. This expansion has been funded by generous grants from the Oregon Community Foundation and the U.S. Bank Foundation, as well as donations from individuals like you. Thank you for your support!

Like most energy assistance programs, OEF is most active during the winter, with only leftover funds saved for the warm months. Given Oregon’s historically mild summers, this model worked for years. But as climate change has grown more severe, our summers have grown hotter and drier. Heat kills more Americans annually than any other natural disaster, and Oregonians are increasingly at risk.

The good news? Heat illness can be easily prevented with A/C. However, the cost of running A/C is unaffordable for many low-income families, forcing them to choose between utility debt and “sweltering in place.” The ability to cool our homes is particularly urgent as wildfires grow worse and hazardous air quality can keep us trapped inside for days.

We’ve heard from our own community about these challenges. More and more people have turned to us for help with their energy bills during heat waves, with only limited funding available. And few other programs provide assistance in the summer, leaving those in need with few options.

So we decided to act. With the help of OCF, US Bank, and donors like you, we’ve begun the process of expanding Oregon Energy Fund’s program so assistance is available all year long. Summer services will begin in the Portland and Medford areas this summer, and will eventually expand along the I-5 corridor and across the state.

We’re pleased to be able to offer this critical expansion of our program, and this is only the beginning. Please join me in donating to OEF today so we can continue to respond to this growing need — and ensure our neighbors can keep their homes and loved ones healthy and cool.

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Click here to find energy assistance in your area

Oregon Utilities Offer COVID-19 Debt Relief Programs for Customers

Oregon Utilities Offer COVID-19 Debt Relief Programs for Customers

Do you or someone you know need help paying your bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Your utility may be able to help! 

Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Avista, Cascade Natural Gas, and Idaho Power have all announced debt relief plans for Oregon customers affected by COVID-19, including matching funds for payments, one-time grants, and extended payment plans. These programs may also be matched with energy assistance.

Programs vary by utility and are only available for a limited time. If you’re behind on your bills, find your utility below for details about their COVID-19 relief program. Contact your utility provider today!


Avista customers may enroll in the following programs:

Automatic Grant – Designed for customers with a history of low-income program eligibility, customers will automatically receive a one-time grant equal to the amount of their total past due balance up to $1,500.

Arrearage Forgiveness Grant – A one-time grant to forgive past due balances up to $1,000 for customers who have received energy assistance with the last 24 months.

For more information, call Avista at 800-227-9187 or click the logo above.


Cascade Natural Gas


Cascade Natural Gas customers may enroll in the following programs:

Automatic Hardship Grant – Designed for customers with a history of low-income program eligibility, qualified customers will automatically receive a one-time grant equal to the amount of their total past due balance up to $1,500.

Financial Hardship Grant – Designed for customers who have not received energy assistance in the last 24 months but is experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. Cascade Natural will determine the qualified customer’s benefit amount based on household size, income, and account balance. The grant, not to exceed $1,500, will be applied to the customer’s past due balance.

For more information, call Cascade Natural at 888-522-1130 or click the logo above.


Idaho Power

Idaho Power customers may enroll in one of the following programs:

40/60 Balance Split – A one-time grant for qualifying customers with larger past due balances who are able to make a lump sum payment of 40 percent of their balance. Idaho Power will then pay the remaining 60 percent of the balance up to $1,200.

Payment Arrangement Match – Relief to qualifying customers able to make payments over time. Idaho Power will match the payments up to a total of $1,200 or 12 months.

Instant Grant – A one-time credit/grant up to $250 to provide immediate debt relief to qualifying customers with smaller past due balances. 

For more information, call Idaho Power at 800-388-6040 or click the logo above.


NW Natural

NW Natural customers may enroll in more than one of the following programs (up to $1,200):

Instant Grant – A one-time immediate grant up to $300 to provide immediate debt relief for qualified customers with smaller past due balances.

50/50 Matching Grant – A one-time matching grant to provide debt relief, up to $600, when their matching payment equal to 50 percent of the total account balance is received.

Time Payment Arrangement with Matching Grant – The customer enrolls in a time payment arrangement and receives a matching grant installment toward their past due balance each month their payment is received. The grant is equal to 50 percent of the total account balance, up to $1,200, divided equally by the number of payments required by the time payment arrangement.

For more information, call NW Natural at 800-422-4012 or click the logo above.


Pacific Power

Pacific Power customers may enroll in one of the following programs:

Extended Payment Match – Qualifying customers who require long-term payment arrangements on past due balances will receive a monthly payment match up to $1,000 for 12 months, until the past due balance is paid in full, or the $1,000 maximum is met.

Instant Grant – A one-time grant up to $500 is offered to help customers pay off past due balances, reconnect service, or set up an extended payment plan.

For more information, call PacifiCorp at 888-221-7070 or click the logo above.

Portland General Electric


Portland General Electric customers may enroll in more than one of the following programs (up to $1,000):

50/50 Plan – A one-time PGE bill payment to match a customer payment of an equal value.

Three-Month Payment Match – PGE will match customer payments for up to three months or until the outstanding balance is $0.

Extended Match Program – PGE will match customer payments for up to 12 months if the customer enrolls in a Time Payment Arrangement Plan for up to 24 months.

Customer Assistance – A one-time bill payment by PGE up to $500 for qualifying customers to get their account current. This will cover any remaining balance for customers who received energy assistance through the Oregon Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Reconnect Assistance – Once the disconnection moratorium expires, PGE will match a customer’s payment to reconnect their disconnected service.

For more information, call Portland General Electric at 503-228-6322 or click the logo above.


For more information about these programs, please visit the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Winter Storms Show the Risks Energy Burdened Oregonians Face

Winter Storms Show the Risks Energy Burdened Oregonians Face

Oregon has been through a lot lately. Barely six months after September’s devastating wildfires, a major winter storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, with ice and snow snapping trees and power lines and plunging much of northwest Oregon into darkness.

Teams at Portland General, Pacific Power, and other utilities mobilized immediately, working around the clock to repair the damage. Many of us at OEF lost power ourselves, and we’re incredibly grateful to the utility employees who braved the cold and worked so hard for all of us.

For most of us, the experience of no power is rare. But for our low-income neighbors, it’s a present and constant worry.

1 in 4 Oregon households spend 6% or more of their income on energy each year, a phenomenon known as a high energy burden. These families are in constant danger of missed bill payments and, if they fall too far behind, power shutoffs. Many regularly sacrifice food, rent, or medication to make ends meet.

The circumstances we experienced en masse this winter are a fact of life for energy burdened families. Many turn off the heat and brave cold temperatures in their homes to keep the bills low. Others risk house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning by relying on candles or bringing generators inside.

Losing power also carries hidden costs, as those of us who had to throw out fridges full of food can attest. For families on a shoestring budget, the loss of hundreds of dollars of groceries often means hungry nights until the next paycheck arrives.

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are useless without power, to say nothing of in-home medical equipment like wheelchairs or respirators. And rural homes that rely on wells lose access to water for washing, bathing, and drinking.

This recent storm is a sobering reminder of the risks that low-income and energy-burdened families face every day. And so as light and warmth return to our homes and we process our experiences, let’s also remember the people who struggle to pay for those basic needs, and what we can do to help.

Please join me in giving thanks, and giving back.

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In Her Own Words: Nancy

In Her Own Words: Nancy

Since COVID-19, we’ve all been social distancing in our homes. But what if you live somewhere that’s not possible? 

Nancy lives in a 420 sq. ft. apartment in a senior community in Salem. Her apartment has poor ventilation and no exhaust fan, and she shares the hallways, elevators, and other facilities with the other residents.  Because of all the overlap, she told us it’s very difficult to maintain a healthy environment and worries about exposure to COVID-19. 

To keep her apartment safe, Nancy has kept the window open for the last six months with a fan running to help the air circulate – even in the winter. But because of the cold temperatures, her heating bills have risen dramatically.  

Nancy has no income except for social security, and the increase in her bills was a major financial burden. Fortunately, she qualified to receive energy assistance, which helped her catch up on her bills. In fact, she was so grateful for the help she received that she decided to give back by donating to Oregon Energy Fund’s energy assistance program.

Even though it was just a small amount, she says, “we’re all in this together – it shouldn’t just be words. She asked herself: “What can I do right here that will make a difference? If there’s things we can do that help ourselves, help our neighbors – that improves life for everyone.” 

No one should fall behind on their bills to protect their health. Thank you to Nancy for her generosity – please join her in supporting OEF’s energy assistance program today! 

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2020: The Year in Review

2020: The Year in Review

Dear friends, 

Back in January, none of us could imagine what this year had in store: a global pandemic, mass unemployment, monstrous wildfires, and waves of social upheaval. Trial after trial. I don’t often say this, but I won’t be sorry to say goodbye to this year. 

And yet 2020 has not broken usThrough these difficult months, weve also seen unprecedented acts of compassion and generositycooperation and grace. We’ve seen countless people look out for their neighbors and make sacrifices for the common good. And as we at OEF have stood on the frontlines of this economic crisis, helping our neighbors pay for the basic costs of light and heat, we’ve felt the unwavering strength of our donor community behind us all the while. To all of you, I say: thank you.  

COVID-19 defined this year. As incomes dropped and more people than ever fell behind on their utility bills, we pivoted promptly to respond, taking our workspace virtual and launching an emergency fundraising campaign. We teamed up with our partners to adjust our application process and allow clients to receive energy assistance from  their own homes instead of traveling office buildingsAs part of our advocacy efforts, we helped craft an agreement between the Public Utility Commission and the investor-owned utilities across the state to extend shutoff moratoria through spring 2021. And we distributed $754,000 in funds to 3,072 people across the state, ensuring our neighbors could continue to pay for energy without sacrificing food, rent, or medicine. 

In the midst of this, we also launched a new Year of the Student campaign to address the energy burdens experienced by students and their families as they take classes from home this yearThe inaugural program, a collaboration with the K-5 charter school KairosPDX, will provide $20 in monthly energy bill assistance for one year to qualifying families. And that’s only the startwe look forward to introducing more programs like this in 2021. 

Our work is only beginning. And as our neighbors face the prospect of a long, cold winter, your continued support ithat much more critical. But I have hopeThanks to you, we have met the challenges of this tumultuous year. We did not break. And if we stand united as we have these past months, if we refuse to be discouraged by the road ahead – then I believe a brighter future is out there, waiting for us. Let’s go there together. 

Brian Allbritton, Executive Director 

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Oregon Teen Raises COVID-19 Awareness, Supports OEF

Oregon Teen Raises COVID-19 Awareness, Supports OEF

A smiling, short-haired Claire sits on the stairs.In March 2020, as the first US outbreaks of COVID-19 began, Lake Oswego high schooler Claire Fennell watched as confusion and arguments about social distancing broke out around the nation. Worried that misinformation could make the pandemic worseClaire decided to start a virtual campaign to promote public awareness. She called it the #SixFeetTogether campaign. 

Starting with a simple graphic, Claire branched out to design stickers and masks, which she sold online to raise money for COVID-19 relief. That’s when she first found out about the Oregon Energy Fund. 

“There’s a lot of talk around supporting healthcare, housing instability, and food pantries,” Claire says, “but not nearly as much discussion about energy insecurity. Nationally, 25 million households reported having to make tradeoffs between food, healthcare, and utilities. And that was before the pandemic!” She points out how energy insecurity can make it harder for laidoff workers to find new employment, as energy “is essential for things like hygiene and job searching online.” 

Since May, the #SixFeetTogether campaign has sold over 100 products and donated the proceeds to OEF’s COVID-19 relief fundraising awareness of the need and helping OEF ensure our pandemic-impacted neighbors can keep the lights and heat on. Thank you, Claire! 

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Voices of Oregon Energy Fund

Voices of Oregon Energy Fund

A smiling blonde woman in a blue dress stands in front of a wooden door.Oregon Energy Fund is my favorite charity to give to. I went through a time in my life when I was financially unable to deal with my bills…I went without heat for a year. Oregon Energy Fund saw me through those lean times. It was a godsend. And I realized giving back was really important. You were the first charity I donated to when I was able. It meant that much to me, my life, and how I’ve turned out.” – Michelle, OEF donor & former client 

“Since COVID-19,I’m taking care of my grandchildren, which has impacted me greatly financially. I am now learning of new resources, like Oregon Energy Fund. Thank you and bless organizations like you.” – Christine, OEF recipient 

“Thank you for doing this for those in need. I’m very grateful for the help I got when I needed it most.” – Jan, OEF donor 

“Deborah lost her job due to COVID-19, and had to stay home to help care for her mom, who is disabled and immuno-compromised. They had no income for weeks, and took a long time to get approved for unemployment. She eventually received several UI checks, but used them immediately to pay back rent.” OEF made up the difference and helped Deborah catch up on her past-due energy bills. – St. Vincent de Paul, OEF partner 

You have made managing and surviving through our current crises possible. Your kind spirit and incredible concern for my family has been encouraging and uplifting.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” – Oregon Energy Fund client 

A smiling man in glasses and a suit stands in front of city buildings.Ensuring access to warmth and light is critical for the health, safety, and dignity of all Oregonians. As my own home has become a school and an office these last few months, I’m reminded on a daily basis that Oregon Energy Fund’s mission remains as relevant today as when I first joined the board. This year has taught us the importance of working together to support our communities, and OEF has been right there with us: powering homes, powering lives.” – Adam Lowney, OEF Board of Directors 

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Oregon Energy Fund’s 2020 Virtual Power Gala is October 17!

Oregon Energy Fund’s 2020 Virtual Power Gala is October 17!

Pre-show at 5:30 PM  |  Program begins at 6:00 PM

That’s right…we’re going virtual!

You’re invited to Oregon Energy Fund’s annual celebration of powering lives — right in the comfort of your own home! This year’s gala may be online, but we’re taking the opportunity to give it an extra jolt of fun. Plug in to our event livestream on October 17 for live music by the Smut City Jellyroll Society, an interactive costume contest, a home mixology lesson, inspiring stories from clients and partners, and more!

Registration for this year’s gala is free, so click here to RSVP or make a donation! All proceeds will support OEF’s mission to assist Oregonians in financial crisis with their energy bills in support of household stability.

We’re also proud to partner with Devil’s Food Catering to offer a variety of hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and cocktail mixes for the evening. Locally sourced and prepared, our menu lets you enjoy a delicious, stylish meal during the event while directly supporting Portland small businesses. Orders are available for curbside pick-up and limited delivery and must be placed no later than October 14. See our event menu here.

More details at

Hosted by Joe Vithayathil of KPTV FOX 12
and Misty Marquam of Marquam Auction Agency