Pursuant to Governor Brown’s Executive Order No. 17-20 and in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Public Utility Commission, OHCS created a 10-year plan to reduce energy burden and improve energy efficiency in affordable housing across the state. The plan, which is accompanied by an interactive assessment of energy use in affordable housing, provides recommended steps to reduce energy burden for low-income households.
If a household spends more than six percent of their income on energy-related costs, they are considered energy-burdened. The inter-agency assessment and plan indicate that lower-income families are more likely to be energy-burdened. The assessment looks at low-income Oregonians’ electricity and natural gas energy burden and identifies regions with the greatest energy affordability gap. Key findings from assessment include:
- The total energy burden of low-income Oregonians across the state is nearly $350 million per year.
- The average energy affordability gap for energy-burdened households below 200% of the federal poverty level is $631 per year.
- The majority of energy-burdened households are in rural areas. Regions with the largest gap are located in central and eastern Oregon.
“By improving energy efficiency, lower-income Oregonians can benefit from smaller utility bills and greater housing stability,” said Oregon Housing and Community Services Director Margaret Salazar. “Weatherization improvements have benefits beyond energy cost savings, such as creating better indoor air quality and improved comfort and safety of homes, which every Oregonian deserves. The reduced greenhouse gas emissions makes these efforts a win-win.”
The plan outlines initial strategies to improve energy efficiency in low-income housing, with steps that can be taken over time. The plan identifies more than $113 million in annual potential energy cost savings through low-income energy efficiency projects across the state.
One of the three objectives identified in the plan is to fund and expand new and existing programs that have a large impact on reducing the energy burden on low-income households, including the Multifamily Energy Program.
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