Oregon Energy Fund Dramatically Expands Funding to Rural Oregon
From the high desert to the snow-capped Wallowas, eastern and southern Oregon are famous for their stunning landscapes. What fewer people know is that this region is also home to huge numbers of energy burdened families – and very few resources to help them.
So we’re proud to announce that, in the last two years, Oregon Energy Fund has undertaken a major expansion of its energy assistance program in rural Oregon. In some areas, we’ve increased our funding by a factor of five, creating a meaningful impact of our neighbors east of the Cascades.
Rural Oregonians experience some of the highest energy burdens in the state. Nearly half of all families in Wheeler County struggled to pay their bills in 2020, with many spending more than 10% of their income on energy. Malheur and Klamath experienced similar hardship.
Raising funds to help these families has been a challenge. These counties have small populations and low levels of donors, and many people live far from anywhere they can apply for help.
In 2019, OEF decided to pour additional resources into addressing this problem. We received generous grants from the Wildhorse Foundation and an anonymous donor, and worked to make our funds more accessible.
These initiatives helped us provide energy assistance to 194 households and 483 individuals across 11 counties – a major increase from years past.
Our program was particularly effective in Baker, Lake, Morrow, and Union Counties, which received almost no funds in the previous year. In some cases, we were able to completely pay off a family’s outstanding utility balance, clearing them of debt and allowing them to devote their remaining finances to other basic needs.
We’d be proud of this success at any time. But energy assistance has been especially crucial in the last two years, as temperatures rose, wildfires grew more extreme, and COVID-19 severely affected the ability to pay for basic costs like energy.
The support we received from foundations and individuals like you allowed us to meet this heightened need and ensure rural families stayed safe through these unprecedented events.
Thank you for your generosity, and please join us as we continue to support our neighbors in need.