PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On Wednesday, Portland City Council approved a grant to give low-income Portlanders cooling units following the June 2021 heat wave.

The grant will launch the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) Heat Response Program which plans to give out 15,000 energy efficient heat pumps/AC units over the next five years to locations with the greatest heat-related risk.

As climate change worsens, worst-case models show extreme heat events, like that of June 2021, will increase, according to the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

“Portlanders need us to take accelerated, aggressive climate action rooted in racial and economic justice,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “This grant does that, and it will save lives and protect people from the effects of climate change. I am confident that the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund will execute this grant as it has all of its work: with accountability, transparency, responsibility, and urgency.” 

The cooling units are slated to be given out over summer by Earth Advantage Inc., which was given a grant to buy cooling units. The company will also work with seven community distribution partners (CDPs).

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability said the distribution partners will identify eligible households and deliver the units to homes.

“We’re excited to begin working with the CDPs on training and logistics to install the first phase of heat pump/cooling units to Portland communities most at risk from heat events,” said Earth Advantage’s Climate Justice Program Manager Pilar Calderin. “We see our role as a partnership with PCEF and the CDPs to fulfill this critical mission in our city.” 

Applicants for units are organized by housing providers and non-housing community-based organizations.

$6.3 million has been allotted for installation of the cooling units over the next five years.