OEF & Meals on Wheels People Launch Groundbreaking Senior Discount Program for Utility Bills

OEF & Meals on Wheels People Launch Groundbreaking Senior Discount Program for Utility Bills

Oregon Energy Fund (OEF) is proud to announce the launch of its new Senior Discount Pilot Program, a groundbreaking collaboration with Meals on Wheels People (MoWP) that provides utility bill assistance to senior Oregonians in the Portland Metro area. Believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation, the program is funded by a grant of $207,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust – the largest competitively won grant in OEF’s history.

The OEF Senior Discount Program aims to support seniors on fixed incomes who have been disproportionately affected by the sharp rise in Oregon’s cost of living. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40% of senior households in the Portland Metro area are rent-burdened, leaving them struggling to cover necessary expenses like food, medicine, and utilities.

OEF’s Senior Discount Program addresses this issue by paying $25 to clients’ utility accounts each month. This payment will allow seniors to reallocate money that would have paid for energy and thus help prevent them from falling behind on other necessities. The pilot will serve 300 individual households for two years, with an eye toward expanding its scope in the future.

Elegant in its simplicity, the partnership between Oregon Energy Fund and Meals on Wheels People is a unique example of one and one equaling more than two. While OEF provides the funding, MoWP staff will handle vetting and enrollment – a natural fit given their established relationship with the senior community. MoWP will also help homebound seniors apply for assistance in the comfort of their homes. This will eliminate the need for them to travel to and from local agencies to register, which can require multiple trips, as well as the need to carry and keep track of personal documents away from home.

“By collaborating on this program, both OEF and MoWP will provide a much greater benefit to their community than by working independently,” said Brian Allbritton, OEF Executive Director. “By reducing the amount they spend on energy each month, seniors will have larger budgets for groceries and medications that are often unaffordable – all while maintaining their independence and ability to age in place.”

This project also marks one of the Meyer Memorial Trust’s first collaborative grants, which recognizes joint efforts between multiple organizations. By supporting programs like the OEF Senior Discount, the Meyer Trust reinforces its role as a leader in the field of charitable giving and a forward-thinking supporter of its community.

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“I Owe You My Life”: In Their Own Words

“I Owe You My Life”: In Their Own Words

Image of a blonde woman in a blue shirt sitting next to a lamp.

“I’m on a veteran’s pension and Social Security benefits…it doesn’t quite cover it. With power and rent going up, I kept finding myself getting behind more and more. I had to move in with my son to be able to afford a place to live.

If I hadn’t received assistance, I wouldn’t have had electricity, and if you don’t have electricity, you can’t live in your home. You don’t have your refrigerator, you don’t have your toilets, you don’t have your air conditioning, your heaters. It’s dark, it’s cold.

So I am very grateful, because without Oregon Energy Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to live there.”

~ Rickie, U.S. Navy Veteran


Image of an older man and woman sitting next to a potted plant.

“Our mobile home is all electric, so it’s very important that we don’t lose electricity. With the fires going on this summer, with my asthma, it was very difficult to even go outside.

My husband and I are both on CPAP machines at night to help us breathe, so if we’d lost our electric, we would’ve been in a real world of hurt. I am so thankful that Oregon Energy Fund is in the area to help so many people.”

~ Joyce & Howard

Close up of a young woman wearing a striped shirt.

“I’m currently in treatment court and getting reacquainted with being a productive member of society. I just moved into an apartment, which is such a stepping stone for me, and without the assistance from Oregon Energy Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to pay rent.

I’m doing everything I can to succeed in my program, and I’m grateful that Oregon Energy Fund has programs for people who have a little higher income but still need assistance.”

~ Breana

Image of an older woman sitting next to a floor lamp.

“I’m a single parent of four. I work hard and I work long, but with raising four kids and the food costs, it gets expensive. Earlier this year, I had an electric bill that I didn’t have enough to pay plus rent, plus everything else.

Oregon Energy Fund helped out a lot. Our lights would’ve been shut off, and I would’ve had to either not pay my rent, or not pay my car note, or another bill would’ve not been paid. If it hadn’t been for Oregon Energy Fund, we would’ve been in the dark.”

~ Lela

Image of an older woman speaking while her husband sits in the background.

“I had to retire two years ago when my husband Mike was diagnosed with dementia. I’m his caretaker, and he can’t be left alone for two seconds. But losing half my income, going on Social Security, just killed us. We have a lot of medical, and we got a notice that our rent would be going up.

Then this summer, it was very hot. We had fans going in the bedrooms, and the A/C, and we received a utility bill that was $400. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do we do?’ Oregon Energy Fund saved us. I owe you my life.”

~ Sarah

A Note from our President

A Note from our President

Dear friends,

We all show support for the nonprofits we love in different ways. For me, the work that Oregon Energy Fund does is so meaningful that I wanted to be a part of it. In 2009, I decided to offer my professional skills as a CPA, and joined OEF’s Board of Directors as a member of the Finance Committee. From there, I became Treasurer of the Board, and, now, President. The entire time, my commitment to OEF has only continued to grow.

We each have something different to offer. As a new year begins, I want to invite you to join OEF as a volunteer, in whatever capacity fits you best. We’re always seeking upbeat and friendly community members to help us with our work.

Please visit OregonEnergyFund.org/Be-Involved to sign up and stay in the loop, or reach out to info@oregonenergyfund.org to learn more. Together, we can make our state a better place for all.

Tori Bryson

Board of Directors, President

2018: The Year in Review

2018: The Year in Review

It’s tough out there.

2018 was a year of extremes in Oregon. A sweltering summer set a record number of 90-degree days in Portland. Wildfires rampaged across the state. The senior population reached an all-time high of 708,000 – an increase that experts say could exceed available healthcare and housing. And the cost of living continued to soar, with Oregon ranked the sixth-most expensive state in the US by CNBC.

While much of our state’s economy is booming, things aren’t getting easier for the many hardworking Oregonians whose wages have stagnated, or for seniors on fixed incomes. In fact, it turns out that the struggle among ordinary people to make ends meet has only spread. According to a recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration,

One in three Oregon households “have difficulty paying utility bills or sustaining adequate heating or cooling in their homes.”

One in five skip or reduce necessities like food and medicine to pay their energy bills.

One in ten keep their homes at an “unhealthy or unsafe temperature” to reduce costs.

These numbers are not only much higher than our previous estimates of one in eight. They also reveal a silent crisis unfolding all around us, in living rooms and kitchens across the state. They reveal that the need for help is greater than ever – and growing every day.

How We Helped

This year, we broadened our scope as never before. We raised over $1.1 million to support our mission, focusing in particular on local community funding. We formed partnerships with several new organizations to ensure our funds reach as many people as possible, including Meals on Wheels People (MoWP), EDP Renewables, and Portland’s Latino Network. Across the board, we helped around 9% more Oregonians than in 2017, and laid the groundwork to raise that number even higher in 2019.

We declared 2018 “The Year of the Senior” and developed innovative programs to support Oregon’s growing population of senior citizens. A groundbreaking collaboration with MoWP, set to launch in 2019, will provide seniors with a monthly discount to prevent them from falling behind on utility costs, and even allow them to sign up in the comfort of their own homes. We also announced plans to double our Jackson County Senior Fund, ensuring that residents in rural regions can access the resources they need to get back on their feet.

As we look ahead to our 30th anniversary next year, we will continue to think outside the box to help those in need. We intend to increase funding by 20% in the coming year, as well as cultivate relationships with local businesses, foundations, and sponsors. We face huge challenges, no doubt. But these programs are changing lives. And if we pull together, we can use all of our resources to keep our neighbors warm, dry, and safe.

Image of Brian Allbritton's signature

Brian Allbritton, Executive Director

OEF & EDP Renewables launch new PowerUp Program in Arlington

OEF & EDP Renewables launch new PowerUp Program in Arlington

Oregon Energy Fund leadership traveled to the City of Arlington last month for the launch of our new PowerUp Program. The program is sponsored by EDP Renewables (EDPR) and creates a fund of $5,000 for Arlington residents who have suffered a layoff, accident, illness, or other financial emergency and need help paying their utility bills.

The PowerUp Program is a culmination of OEF’s pledge to focus on local funding this year, especially in Oregon’s rural areas. Our Jackson County Senior Fund, highlighted in the fall newsletter, is another example.

Arlington is tucked into the golden hills that line the eastern Columbia River, about 50 miles east of The Dalles The community is home to Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm, which spans 8,500 acres of private ranchland and is owned and operated by EDPR. By joining with OEF to sponsor the PowerUp Program, EDPR is diverting locally-generated revenue back into the community to support local residents in financial crisis.

A press conference was held on November 15 in the city’s new Gronquist Building, during which EDPR External Communications Associate Bevan Augustine presented OEF Executive Director Brian Allbritton with a $5,000 check. Numerous local officials and community members were in attendance, including Port Manager Peter Mitchell and City Recorder Pam Rosenbalm.

“This new collaboration with EDPR adds to our historic funding in Gilliam County and opens the door to new ways to fund communities in need,” Allbritton said. “The PowerUp program is an innovative concept of partnering with local businesses to provide greater service and support to their community. In turn, this allows our partners to ensure that the towns where they operate and the people who live there will continue to thrive.”

Arlington-area residents who are interested in applying for help should consult OEF’s website to find their local agency.

We encourage businesses or donors who are interested in supporting energy assistance programs in their community to contact us at info@oregonenergyfund.org or 971-386-2124.

Fall 2018: Rose’s Story

Fall 2018: Rose’s Story

Dear Friends,

Who do you call when you need help with something? An extra hand to move a couch, a ride to work if your car breaks down, a neighborhood kid to feed the cat when you’re away?

Many of us have family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors to support us when we’re in a tight spot. But what if you needed help and had no one to turn to?

For many of Oregon’s seniors, this is too often the reality. As Oregon’s weather grows more extreme, the need for heating and cooling has escalated beyond what they can afford, leaving more and more of our neighbors scrambling to cover the cost.

Take Rose, an 85-year-old from Coos Bay.

Image of an older woman looking off camera.

Rose recently moved from an apartment to a mobile home to cut down on expenses. Instead of seeing her cost of living decrease, poor insulation and a scorching hot summer left her with a $1,000 electric bill.

Luckily, Rose had a friend who knew about us and put her in touch. We’re working to get her caught up and have introduced her to agency partners who offer weatherization services so she’ll be better prepared in the future.

Here at Oregon Energy Fund, we’re dedicated to helping people in crisis get back on their feet, because we believe no one should be isolated in their hour of need.

But we can’t do it alone. Donations like yours make up almost 75% of our budget, and have allowed us to make a difference in the lives of seniors across Oregon.

From all of us, thank you for your generosity, and please consider extending your support for those in need today.


Brian Allbritton
Executive Director

We’re in the Give!Guide!

We’re in the Give!Guide!

Image of the Give!Guide logo

We’re thrilled to be included again in Willamette Week’s Give!Guide, which runs from Nov. 1 – Dec. 31. Last year, we raised over $11,000 – enough to power 450 homes for a week. This year, we’ll be offering a variety of fun prizes and incentives for donors, plus a pop-up event with a local business. Don’t miss any of the details – follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates!

Expanding Energy Assistance, from East to West

Expanding Energy Assistance, from East to West

As part of our mission to provide Power for All, we’ve spent a good part of this year traveling around the state, meeting and talking with our neighbors about the issues they face.

Many of the places we visited are home to high numbers of seniors and high rates of poverty. However, they often lack the resources of large urban centers like Portland and Salem, making it harder for people to get the help they need.

In May, we visited the beautiful city of Medford, where seniors comprise more than 31% of the population. After rent and food, many of them only have about $200 a month to cover extra expenses, making it perilously easy to fall behind on utility payments when an emergency happens.

Our goal was to raise awareness of our Jackson County Senior Assistance Fund in the community and enlist help in doubling the fund from $25,000 to $50,000.

We were touched by the community’s hospitality and enjoyed meeting with local leaders, especially KOBI-TV, who graciously invited Brian to join them for an interview. Brian also presented to the Rotary Club of Medford Rogue and met with representatives from Pacific Power, Avista, and Rogue Credit Union.

We look forward to enlisting the support of more local businesses as we work toward our goal, and as we continue to expand aid to rural communities across Oregon.

If you are part of a business that wants to work with us to increase awareness and funds for energy assistance, please get in touch!

New Partners

New Partners

We’re happy to announce a new partnership with EDP Renewables to bring a sponsored PowerUp Progam to Arlington, Oregon, later this year.

This will include a $5,000 fund to provide energy assistance to residents local to EDPR’s Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm in Gilliam County.

OEF and EDPR look forward to expanding aid to our neighbors in this community!