Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) and Hermiston Energy Services (HES) announced they are working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to donate funds to support local electric utility customers, food banks, and students impacted by COVID-19.
As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues, or margins, returned to its customers in the form of cash refunds via the Capital Credits program. Under this program, which applies to all UEC utility customers, AWS was eligible for a patronage refund and is working with UEC and HES to donate those funds back to the local community.
UEC, HES, and AWS worked with community stakeholders to identify and direct these funds to local organizations providing direct support to individuals and families facing hardships during the pandemic, including:
- $250,000 to the UEC UCARE and HES HEAT energy assistance programs to provide immediate assistance to residential customers having trouble paying utility bills. This is enough to cover the average energy bills for over 1,000 households for two months.
- $25,000 each to five local food banks: the Irrigon-Boardman Food Pantry, Stanfield’s Food Basket, Pendleton’s Community Outreach Food Pantry, Hermiston’s Agape House and Boardman’s Food Pantry to support food assistance for thousands of area residents.
- $20,000 to the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon (CAPECO) to provide 750 meals each week to senior citizens in Umatilla and Morrow counties.
- $25,000 each to the Morrow County, Umatilla, and Hermiston school districts and the InterMountain Education Service District (for Echo, Stanfield, Athena-Weston, Pendleton, Nixyaawii Tribal School and Pilot Rock schools) to support virtual learning and connectivity for more than 13,000 students across 36 schools.
- $25,000 to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
Additional funds will be earmarked to help respond to pandemic-related community needs as they are identified in the future.
“The effectiveness and reach of the UCARE payment assistance program will be amplified by our collaboration with AWS,” said Lisa McMeen, UEC’s VP of Administration. “With such uncertainty and hardship caused by the pandemic, it is great to work with trusted partners like AWS to keep our community operating at this time.”
“HES is thankful for AWS’s collaboration and commitment to our community in this time of need,” said Nate Rivera, HES general manager. “This additional support to our HEAT financial assistance program will make a real difference for our customers during the pandemic.”
“AWS continues to be an outstanding community partner for the Umatilla Schools and this community,” said Heidi Sipe, Umatilla School District superintendent. “Their latest contributions, and those prior to the pandemic, are testament to their commitment to the children and families of Umatilla.”