Utilities and Internet
(Updated July 29, 2020)
Energy Assistance Funding Available to Lane County Residents
Second round of applications opens Monday, Aug. 3
Lane County has received an additional $1.5 million in energy assistance funding from the federal office of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding is from the Energy Assistance Stability Coronavirus Relief Program (EASCR-20).
For EASCR-20, the household income limit is higher than the previous programs allowed (LIHEAP and LIHEAP CARES). Households who have been determined to be over income for previous programs are encouraged to apply for EASCR-20 if they have been affected by COVID-19.
The EASCR-20 program provides qualifying households with a one-time payment toward their energy bill. It may be applied to electricity, natural gas, home heating oil, propane, wood pellets and wood.
To qualify for EASCR-20, a household’s current gross monthly income must be at or below 80% of Lane County’s area median income. A household of one person can have a gross monthly income as high as $3,270. A household of four can have a gross monthly income of $4,670.
The amount of assistance a household receives depends on the need of the household. The program provides a one-time payment that ranges from $500 to $1,500.
Lane County agencies will begin accepting phone calls for appointments on August 3 at 9 a.m. See a list of agencies to call and learn more about EASCR-20.
Also learn about two other energy assistance programs accepting applications in Lane County: LIHEAP and LIHEAP CARES. Residents are encouraged to apply for all programs for which they are eligible.
- Eugene Water & Electric Board
EWEB offers $260 in bill assistance annually to eligible customers. Applications for Customer Care open on the first business day of each month and funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis until fully committed for the month. EWEB also offers a Residential Re-Payment Plan which can help customer bring accounts up-to-date over time and avoid disconnection of services. EWEB is also deferring residential or commercial energy efficiency loan payments.
- Northwest Natural Gas
Northwest Natural Gas is not disconnecting customers or charging late fees during the state of emergency. Learn more on Northwest Natural Gas’ website or call 800-422-4012.
- Blachy Lane Energy Co-Op
Blachy Lane is asking customers who are having difficulty paying bills to contact their customer service line at 541-688-8711.
- Emerald People’s Utility District
EPUD is asking customers who are having difficulty paying bills to contact their customer service line at 541-746-1583 to inquire about assistance programs.
- Energy Assistance Programs
The Lane County Human Services Division administers six different energy assistance programs for residents of Lane County. Energy Assistance programs provide a payment directly onto the applicant’s utility or energy account.
Keep Americans Connected
In order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of COVID-19, many telecommunications providers have joined the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge to:
- Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic
- Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the Coronavirus pandemic
- Open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them
Oregon Public Utility Commission Allocated $3.5 Million to Expand Access to Affordable Telephone and Broadband Service for Low-Income Oregonians
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) was allocated $3.5 million for the Oregon Lifeline Program to temporarily increase the discount on telephone or high-speed internet service for low-income households in Oregon. These funds are a portion of the $247 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars allocated to support Oregonians and small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Oregon Lifeline, a federal and state government program, typically provides a discount up to $12.75 per month on telephone or high-speed internet service with participating companies. With this additional funding, the discount will be up to $21.25 per month for these services for six months starting July 1, 2020, with the goal of providing financial relief for up to 8,000 more low-income households. Oregonians receiving benefits from select public assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid may qualify. Residents may also qualify if their total household income is at or below 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Learn more and apply for the the Oregon Lifeline program.
- Free Wi-Fi
Find a list of all of Oregon’s free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Through June 30, eligible new customers can sign up to receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive internet adoption program for low-income households. For qualified low-income families, the service normally costs $9.95/month. The company will also open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them (see a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots). Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the "xfinitywifi" network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser. Comcast has also agreed to waive late fees and to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, and to not charge for data, over the next 60 days.
CenturyLink is suspending limits on data usage, will waive late fees, and won’t terminate a residential or small business customer’s service for the next 60 days if the user is suffering financial challenges associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Oregon Lifeline
Oregon Lifeline is a federal and state government program that reduces the monthly cost of phone or broadband services for qualifying low-income Oregon households.