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Success Story

Energy Trust, community partners bring savings, safety to more families

Oregon families with lower incomes face significant barriers to making their homes more energy-efficient and lowering their energy bills. These families often pay a higher share of their income to heat and cool their homes.  

To better reach and serve these families, along with communities of color, rural, and indigenous communities, Energy Trust created Community Partner Funding, which offers higher incentives to trusted community-based organizations. They pass those savings on to the customers they serve to do energy-saving upgrades at single-family homes, manufactured homes and multifamily buildings.  

Since 2019, community partnerships have delivered more than $5 million in Energy Trust incentives to more than 2,500 Oregon families while also making their homes more comfortable and safer.   

“Our partners know these communities and the challenges they face better than anyone,” said Isaiah Kamrar, program manager with Energy Trust.  “Together we’re able to bring our expertise and support, helping families navigate this process in a culturally competent way, designed specifically to meet each community’s needs.”  

In 2023, Energy Trust provided funding to 30 organizations throughout Oregon to offer home energy assessments and upgrades like heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, insulation and windows.  

Partners include Wallowa Resources, serving rural communities in northeast Oregon; EUVALCREE, serving the Hispanic, Latino community in Malheur and Umatilla counties; Verde, serving Hispanic, Latino residents in northeast Portland; and Community Energy Project, serving families in North Portland’s historic Black and African American neighborhoods.  

Another community partner is Seeds for the Sol. Founded in 2012, the Corvallis-based organization has served hundreds of low-to-moderate income households and Hispanic and Latino families, connecting them to energy-saving upgrades.   

“Lower-income homes tend to be the least energy efficient, so they’re paying the most into the whole program,” said Julie Williams, executive director of Seeds for the Sol. “So how do we shift and make sure there’s access for everyone? That was our goal and mission, and it’s the same goal and mission of Energy Trust.” 

Before connecting with Seeds for the Sol, Ashley Dayton and her family had been without heat in their Albany home for two years, relying on space heaters. 

“We got heat blankets. Everybody’s got sleeping bags because sometimes it was just really cold,” said Dayton. “I’m looking at $600, $700 electric bills every month, and you’re trying to pay for Christmas.” 

For the Daytons, Seeds for the Sol first completed a home energy assessment, identifying weatherization and an efficient heating and cooling system as the largest energy-saving opportunities.  

With support from Energy Trust, trade ally contractors installed insulation and two ductless heat pumps that heat and cool spaces using far less energy in the home at significantly lower costs.  

Seeds for the Sol helps clients access Energy Trust incentives and offers zero-interest loans to cover the remain costs that can be paid back as the family saves on their energy bills. 

“What we found with a number of our clients in the past is they say that their food security goes up,” said Williams. “It helps people stay in their homes.” 

With Energy Trust support, community partners continue to grow their capacity, reaching more families statewide. Seeds for the Sol estimates serving nearly 200 families in 2024, up from 40 when it first enrolled in Community Partner Funding.  

“I really hope that there are a lot more people out there that really learn that this is something that they can utilize,” said Dayton. “Just don’t be afraid to reach out. There are resources for a reason.” 

Visit Community Partner Funding for more information.