Serving more customers through community partnerships
The pandemic hit some Oregonians harder than others, exacerbating the existing challenges of communities of color, families with low incomes and those in rural areas. That’s why Energy Trust partnered with nonprofits and community agencies in 2020 to bring immediate energy benefits to customers most in need.
Energy Trust partnered with 46 food banks, community action agencies and nonprofits around the state to give away 55,000 LEDs to low-income families. LEDs are up to 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. Energy Trust provided no-cost LEDs to participating organizations, which can be distributed from their offices, delivered to homes or included in pre-packaged food boxes.
“I am a huge proponent of LEDs and energy cost savings. They were wonderful, and people were so appreciative to get something we normally can’t give away that can help lower monthly expenses,” said Gary Hewitt, director of St. Vincent de Paul food pantry in Bend.
Other partnerships deliver larger energy upgrades. Since 2019, Energy Trust has been working with Community Action in Washington County to fund weatherization and heating projects, combining incentives with Oregon Housing and Community Services funds to help each customer do more or larger improvements. These critical energy upgrades make spending time at home more comfortable and affordable for 112 households with low incomes.
“We know seniors and Oregonians on lower or fixed incomes were hit harder economically during the pandemic,” said Kemp Shuey, executive director of Community Action. “It’s wonderful to be able to help these families and individuals, making their homes safer, more comfortable and more affordable.”
Verde, a Portland-based nonprofit that helps advance clean energy investment in low-income communities, works with Energy Trust to provide deeply discounted ductless heat pumps to community members. The innovative offer allows participants to volunteer in neighborhood parks and community gardens in exchange for funding toward the cost of installing a ductless heat pump. Combining Energy Trust incentives with Verde’s contribution, participants pay on average only 10% of the total ductless heat pump cost. The new systems lower heating costs by up to 40%, reducing energy bills year after year while keeping homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
These are just a few examples of partnerships that enable Energy Trust to bring clean energy benefits to the people who need them most.