Merkley, Wyden Announce $3 Million Energy Investment in Umatilla County

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) has received a $3 million federal loan to finance major energy efficiency upgrades that will reduce energy waste and cut costs for UEC members.

The 20-year loan is being administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP)—a program designed by Senator Merkley to allow rural electric co-ops to offer their customers low-interest loans to provide affordable financing for energy efficiency improvements. The program’s intention is that the monthly energy savings from a new heat pump, windows or insulation will help offset all or part of the loan.

“Throughout this year, the coronavirus crisis has claimed Oregonians’ lives and livelihoods—upending every aspect of our lives,” said Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the USDA. “Now is the time to do all that we can to build a road to recovery, and that road must include the state-of-the-art infrastructure investments our rural communities need to access essential utilities, cut costs, and thrive. I’m pleased that this loan will help pave that road, and will continue to fight for more of these investments for rural areas in every corner of our state.”

“When I was in Pendleton last month, I heard both during my online town hall and in a meeting with local economic development officials how COVID-19 and the February floods have combined in 2020 to wallop Eastern Oregon,” Wyden said. “Smart investments like this loan for the Umatilla Electric Cooperative to help low-income customers make their homes more affordable to heat this winter are a must for rural Oregonians to weather this economic storm, and I’ll keep battling for communities throughout our state to secure resources like this so they too can be helped in their recovery.”

“We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Senators to support programs that help UEC members and their energy needs,” said Robert Echenrode, UEC General Manager and CEO.  “We have experience with the RESP program and this additional federal loan bolsters what we can offer to our members for energy efficiency.”