Portlanders in need urged to apply for free air conditioning units ahead of summer weather

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The City of Portland is encouraging community members to apply for free cooling units from the Cooling Portland program ahead of the warmer summer months.

On Tuesday, the city announced the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund is partnering with PDX 311 to expand the Cooling Portland program – which connects community members with free, efficient, and portable cooling and heating units.

“Heat is happening sooner these days. So, we have to just always be ready and I think this is part of the new normal,” Portland Commissioner Carmen Rubio said.

Under the program, Portlanders can call 3-1-1 or apply online for a free cooling unit ahead of summer.

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“Integrating PDX 311 allows us to connect with Portlanders in need and keep people safe ahead of the next heat wave or cold snap,” said PCEF Strategic Partnership and Policy Manager Jaimes Valdez. “Portlanders who need a cooling unit should get on the list before summer starts to heat up.”

The Cooling Portland program started in June 2022 in response to the deadly heat dome in June 2021.

“We are seeing the real time effects of climate change right now with wildfires, extreme heat, ice storms. It makes it all that more critical that we get the word out today,” Rubio said.

Under the program, the city aims to install 15,000 efficient cooling units in low-income homes — prioritizing homes of people over 60 years old, people with medical needs, and people who live alone.

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So far, the city has installed more than 8,000 units in Portland.

“Because Cooling Portland is not an emergency response program during heat waves, people are encouraged to apply as soon as possible,” Valdez said. “This gives the program partners time to verify eligibility, order cooling units, and schedule installation to their homes.”

Portlanders can apply for the units by calling 3-1-1 (or 503-823-4000 if using VOIP phones) or by filling out a form online.

Cooling Portland can also connect community members with other programs to reduce utility bills such as PGE’s income-qualified bill discount, Pacific Power’s income-qualified bill discount, Northwest Natural’s Bill Discount Program, and the Portland Water Bureau’s financial assistance program.

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