Energy/Utility Assistance2024-03-18T08:50:59-07:00

Utility Assistance

Are your heating costs or electric bills so high they’re difficult to pay?

We may be able to connect you with resources that share or cover these important expenses.

Utilities can be expensive for anyone along with all the other things we need to care for ourselves and our families.

Opportunity Council may be able to help with the cost of:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Propane or heating oil
  • Wood pellets or fire logs

We connect community members with programs that are designed to reduce the amount you need to pay. Please follow these three steps to find out if you are eligible.

Image of a house surrounded by icons representing natural gas, electricity, firewood, and water

You don’t need to be in debt or be threatened with disconnection to access help. We want to find solutions before the bills become a problem.

If you have received a power disconnect notice or don’t have enough heating fuel, please contact your local office within your county.

Step 1
Shapes of Whatcom, San Juan, and Island Counties

If you live in Whatcom, San Juan or Island Counties in Washington state, you might be eligible. See step 2.

If you live in another part of Washington, please see Commerce LIHEAP or call (360) 725-2857 for a program serving your area.

Step 2


Eligible households can apply for assistance no matter who provides your utilities or where you buy your propane, heating oil or woodstove supplies. Each available program looks at:

  • How many people live in your household (both children and adults)
  • How much money the household receives each month when you add up your incomes

If your income or the number of people in your home changes from month to month, that’s okay. Just contact us if you’re not sure whether you qualify.


This eligibility chart shows how the maximum monthly income changes depending on how many people live in the household. 1 person 2 people 3 people 4 people 5 people*

Customers of any utility company or people who rely on other heat sources such as propane, wood or oil may have a total monthly household income up to this amount, counting all income sources in the home.

$1,823 $2,465 $3,108 $3,750 $4,393*

Island County Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Cascade Natural Gas (CNG) customers may qualify up to this income level.

$4,404 $5,033 $5,663 $6,292 $6,796*

Whatcom County Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Cascade Natural Gas (CNG) customers may qualify up to this income level.

$4,483 $5,121 $5,763 $6,400 $6,913*
*These limits keep rising with each person over five people.
Contact us for more information.
Step 3


Call for an appointment with someone in your area who can discuss your options privately and help you apply.

Assistance programs change regularly and can have different requirements throughout the year.
We are here to:

  • Keep track of resources that are available now or soon
  • Help you understand exactly what kind of program might work for you
  • Complete and submit your program application forms

If you are a Cascade Natural Gas (CNG), Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customer, or Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) member, you can also apply online for their assistance programs without needing an appointment. Please follow the following links to apply.

PSE HELP & Bill Discount Program

CNG CARES Program (Bill Discount)

OPALCO Energy Assist Program


Opportunity Council



Opportunity Council


San Juan County


Lopez Island Family Resource Center

(360) 468-4117

San Juan

Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center

(360) 378-5246

Orcas & Waldron

Orcas Community Resource Center

(360) 376-3184

Calling is the fastest way to speak to someone. Translation and ASL services are available for your call.

We may be able to assist you with more than just utility bills. Please click below for more information about any programs that may be of interest.


Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I have received a disconnect notice or don’t have enough heating fuel?2023-07-10T13:50:18-07:00

Please call the number in your area and we will do our best to help quickly. We reserve time for some urgent appointments each week.

What can I do if my heating system is broken?2023-09-29T11:54:41-07:00

If you are a homeowner without a working heat system, please call the number in your area for an urgent appointment. If you live in a home you own, Opportunity Council may be able to connect you with financial assistance to fix a broken furnace, heat pump, baseboard heaters or heat stoves. Please ask about this program when you call.

If you are a renter without a working heat system, please contact your landlord or property management.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen, have a work visa or be a documented immigrant to apply for assistance?2023-07-10T13:51:53-07:00

Depending on the program, someone in your household may need to meet these requirements but we do not investigate or report immigration status. Your conversation with us about your status or the people living in your home is completely private.

Is help available if my utility costs are included in my rent and paid by my landlord instead of by me?2023-07-10T13:52:36-07:00

Yes, in some situations. Please contact us for more information.

How many times can I receive utility assistance from Opportunity Council?2023-07-19T09:11:34-07:00

Households can receive utility assistance services from Opportunity Council once per program year. You do not have to be behind on your utility bills to receive assistance.

Who is Opportunity Council and why should I trust you with my personal information?2023-09-29T12:18:29-07:00

Because financial assistance programs are complicated and change frequently, resource providers sometimes rely on us to help people access them. We are a nonprofit organization and there is no charge for our services. Your personal information is only used to determine whether you are eligible for assistance.

Currently we work with:

  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides assistance with power bills, fuel costs and efficiency improvements for anyone who qualifies
  • Low Income Home Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which provides assistance with water or sewer bills from certain utility providers for households who qualify
  • Puget Sound Energy Home Energy Lifeline Program (HELP) and NEW Bill Discount Rate Program, which offers PSE customers assistance paying electric or natural gas bills
  • Cascade Natural Gas’s NEW Cascade Arrearage Relief and Energy Savings Program and Winter Help Program (CARES & CWH), which helps CNG customers with natural gas expenses
Can Opportunity Council help me with my water bills?2024-03-18T09:06:32-07:00

Unfortunately, Opportunity Council no longer has water, sewer, or septic pumping assistance available. However, some utilities may have discount rates or assistance available for low income households or households with seniors or disabilities.  Please contact your local water or sewer utility to see what assistance (if any) is available.  Temporary water bill assistance is available for Ferndale residents through the Ferndale Community Utilities Fund. You can find information about services and the application here:

Can Opportunity Council help me with my garbage bills?2023-07-19T09:16:05-07:00

At this time, Opportunity Council does not have a specific garbage bill assistance program available. However if you are in need of financial assistance for your garbage bill, an alternative option is through the Whatcom Church Network. You can find information about services and contact information here: 

Can I get assistance with my internet, cable, or phone bills?2023-07-19T09:40:10-07:00

Opportunity Council does not have a program to assist with these bills. However, qualifying households can receive a federal benefit that provides a discount of up to $30 a month towards internet service, and up to $75 per month on qualifying Tribal lands. You can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if you contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. Information about The Affordable Connectivity Program and the application process can be found here: 

An option for households looking for affordable phone service is through Lifeline, a federal benefit that provides eligible consumers with a monthly discount of up to $9.25. Information regarding income qualifications and the application process can be found here:

For Comcast customers, discounted internet service is available for qualifying households for $9.95 a month through Comcast Internet Essentials. Households that apply for Internet Essentials and the Affordable Connectivity Program can receive internet access for free. More information about this service can be found here:

Do you offer Air Purifiers?2023-07-10T13:55:50-07:00

We do not offer air purifiers in the counties that we serve.

Do you offer Air Conditioners?2023-09-29T12:29:37-07:00

We offer portable air conditioner units to homes where someone lives who is age 60 or older and has received LIHEAP since October 1, 2023. Starting October 1, 2023, homes where someone lives who receives federal disability benefits (like Social Security Disability, SSI, or Veteran’s disability) and has received LIHEAP since October 1, 2023, may also request a portable air conditioner. Proof of disability benefit received is required.

It is a one-time benefit and each home may only receive one per home. If you have received LIHEAP since October 1, 2023 and did not ask for one, please contact the phone number in your county to ask if you are eligible to receive one. If you have an upcoming appointment, please let us know if you are interested.

What options are available for seniors and people with disabilities?2023-07-19T09:12:11-07:00

Each year, Opportunity Council opens priority scheduling for households with seniors and people with disabilities receiving Federal Disability benefits. Starting in October and through December, appointments will be available for clients to prepare for the winter months. These individuals do not need to have the bill in their name.

What if I am unable to schedule online or by phone due to a disability?2023-07-10T13:57:56-07:00

If you are unable to schedule online or by phone due to a disability, please complete a scheduling accommodation request form.

Scheduling Accommodation Request Form – English

Scheduling Accommodation Request Form – Español (Spanish)

Scheduling Accommodation Request Form – русский (Russian)

What documents should I have prepared for my appointment?2023-07-10T14:06:48-07:00

Please have the following information available for your appointment.

  1.  Names, dates of birth, and social security numbers for all household members. (You may still be eligible without a social security number)
  2. Latest utility bills or access to the lease.
  3. Proof of income for the month prior to the appointment date. (We count: Earnings, Social Security/SSI, VA cash benefits, TANF, General Assistance (GA/ABD), Odd Jobs, Work Paid in Cash, Work Exchange for Rent, Unemployment, L&I, State Paid Family/Medical Leave, Child Support, Alimony, Rental Income, Self-Employment Income)
Where can I find more detailed information about these programs?2024-03-18T09:15:34-07:00

*CNG CARES (Cascade Arrearage Relief & Energy Savings) program and PSE’s new bill discount rate program (with PSE HELP) will begin October 1, 2023. You do not need an appointment with Opportunity Council to apply.  You can apply online by clicking the links below to see if you are eligible:

PSE Bill Discount Rate (Island/Whatcom Counties)

CNG CARES (through the Opportunity Council) (Island/Whatcom Counties)

OPALCO Project Pal (San Juan County)

If you do not have online access, please contact your local county’s energy assistance location and we can take your information over the phone for you.


I am not happy with the service provided by Energy Assistance, what can I do?2023-07-10T14:14:59-07:00

We strive to provide you with the best service possible. However, if you are unhappy with your service or do not agree with our decisions, please complete a grievance form. We are happy to reconsider your application.

Grievance Policy – English

Grievance Policy – Español (Spanish)

Grievance Policy – русский (Russian)


Grievance Form – English

Grievance Form – Español (Spanish)

Grievance Form – русский (Russian)

Reducing Future Costs

Weatherproofing, making repairs and replacing equipment such as old furnaces can make the place you live more energy efficient. Opportunity Council may be able to find resources to share the cost of these home improvements so your bills are lower in the future. Ask about these programs when you contact us.

Here are some tips for lowering your energy costs throughout the year.

  • Focus first on big items that use a lot of energy:
    1. Most homes can be comfortable with the thermostat set to 68° in the day and 55° at night. If needed, put on a sweater or extra blanket instead of turning up the heat.
    2. Turn your water heater temperature to 125° and only use hot water when needed. For example, hot water is important for washing dishes but you can use cold water for clothes.
    3. Set the refrigerator temperature between 38° and 42° and the freezer between 1° and 3°.
    4. Pay attention to natural ventilation. If your home is too cool and it’s a nice temperature outside, open windows to let in the comfortable air. On the hottest days, close windows and shades instead of using an air conditioner. Although a breeze feels good, this practice helps keep the hot air out of your home.
  • Unplug small appliances until you need them. (They use energy even when turned off.)
  • Turn off lights and fans when they’re not in use. When possible, use natural light instead of
  • Replace old light bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs. They cost more to buy but save money
    later by using less energy. LEDs are the most efficient bulbs, and then CFLs.
  • If you feel air coming in around windows or doors, seal those leaks with caulking or

For additional tips and how-to resources, see

ASL Services

A current list of Opportunity Council programs and services is available in American Sign Language.


We provide free interpreting and ASL services.

Go to Top