Energy Policy

CAPO aims to alleviate the high energy-burden of low-income Oregonians through involvement in national, local, and state energy policy. The Community Action Network, through the provision of rational, sound, technical, and professional resources, provides counsel using the best resources available. A major portion of CAPO’s efforts are directed toward energy-related policy activities of the Oregon legislature and the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. The Energy Policy Coordinator and CAPO support low-income policy needs by:
  • Assisting utilities and the State of Oregon as Oregon’s leader in providing energy and weatherization programs to low-income households.
  • Reviewing CAPO’s energy programs and regularly identifying, evaluating, and monitoring the technical, political, and trends, issues, risks and concerns, which could affect CAPO’s delivery of current programs.
  • Engaging external stakeholders and policy-makers on current energy issues impacting low-income Oregonians.
  • CAPO directors and the Energy Policy Coordinator regularly analyze public policy trends related to energy, and make recommendations to the legislature, the PUC, and local officials, regarding how the network can anticipate and adjust to these trends, in order to more effectively achieve its goals or to actively participate in the public policy dialogue.
  • Formulating and adopting basic policies, programs, and practices concerning low-income energy matters.

Current Project Fall and Winter 2016-17

Coos Curry Project:
NW Natural (NWN), Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO), Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA), Oregon Training Institute (OTI), Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) seek to combine resources and collaborate to deliver high efficiency natural gas furnaces to 50 low- income homes in Coos County. This collaboration aims to make these Coos County homes more affordable by reducing the home energy burden. Over the last several years, the average wholesale price of oil has increased while the price of natural gas has dropped. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price of oil was more than double the cost of natural gas in winter 2015-2016. Converting these homes from oil to natural gas will lower the cost of home energy bills and minimize service gaps by eliminating fuel deliveries and bulk prepaid fuel payments. Additionally, converting these homes from oil to natural gas will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality – two recognized non-energy benefits that are a critical part of Oregon’s energy future.

This initiative requires collaboration among several stakeholders with short project timelines to service homes before the winter heating season. This is a unique opportunity to test alternative design to serve low income homes and leverage funding sources in conjunction with traditional Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding. Successful implementation may establish an avenue to relieve families struggling to pay high utility costs associated with oil furnaces.

Current Policy and Program Advocacy

Healthy Homes
CAPO’s goal is to achieve community well-being, economic vitality, and environmental stewardship. We seek funds that will improve the indoor environmental conditions of Oregonians by incorporating healthy homes initiatives and using a “one-touch” philosophy and pairing grant-funded work with current weatherization services.

A “healthy home” is a home designed, constructed, maintained, or rehabilitated in a manner that supports the health of residents. The focus of the initiative is to identify health, safety, and quality-of-life issues in the home environment and to act systematically to eliminate or mitigate problems. Healthy homes can be defined broadly to include physical and environmental factors, and personal/behavioral factor. By going into homes using a holistic approach, agencies will be able to help families avoid high energy and medical costs, which strain family budgets. This initiative would combine energy weatherization with healthy home repairs, aimed at reducing the financial burden of inefficient and unsafe homes.

This shift to a holistic, coordinated approach will assess multiple potential risks or hazards within a home, including broad safety and health upgrades, along with information provided to homeowners during home visits, and coordination of referrals and follow-up. This move toward “healthy homes” is in concert with federal initiatives to approach housing-related hazards and deficiencies in a coordinated and comprehensive way to prevent diseases and injuries. This approach also reflects a more efficient and effective use of existing resources. A growing body of evidence links housing conditions to health outcomes such as asthma, lead poisoning, lung cancer, and unintentional injuries.