Oregon Solar Incentives

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Oregon Solar Incentives

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    Don't Miss Out on This Years 2021 Oregon Solar Incentives

    Oregon leads the nation in terms of solar incentives, with local, state, and federal programs that help significantly reduce both the upfront cost of installing a solar energy system as well as the payback period. 

    Homeowners and business owners who take advantage of every Oregon solar incentive may get up to 65% off the price of a brand new system. In this article, we’ll share a comprehensive list of the best incentives that are currently available in Oregon.

    Energy Trust of Oregon Solar Incentives

    The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) offers incentives in the form of rebates to homeowners and business owners who are customers of Portland General Electric (PGE) or Pacific Power (PP). These rebates are subject to availability and changing rates, and they are calculated on a per-watt basis.

    Homeowners and business owners in Oregon who take advantage of every incentive they are eligible for are looking at record low prices for going solar. In this article, we’ll share a comprehensive list of the best incentives that are currently available in Oregon.

    Rebate Qualifications

    To qualify for these incentives, you must live or own a business within PGE or PP’s service area. Your building must be commercial, industrial, government-related, nonprofit, residential, school-related, agricultural, or institutional. The solar installation that you install must be new, UL-listed, compliant with all standards, and carry warranties on all components.

    The system must meet all applicable codes and additional site criteria such as total solar resource fractions, be grid-tied, and be installed by an approved Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor (such as our contractors here at Sunbridge Solar). Residential solar energy systems

    Portland General Electric offers residential rebates currently at $0.45 per watt with a maximum rebate of $3,600 per home. Their commercial rebate varies between $0.30 per watt and $0.55 per watt based on the availability of funding and current allocation amounts, with a maximum rebate of $45,000. The ETO has a commercial rebate estimator online that provides more detailed information.

    The system must meet all applicable codes and additional site criteria such as total solar resource fractions, be grid-tied, and be installed by an approved Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor (Sunbridge is an ETO Trade Ally!). 

    Pacific Power also offers a $0.45 per watt residential rebate with a cap of $3,600 per home, and a similarly structured commercial rebate that ranges between $0.25 per watt and $0.45 per watt with a maximum rebate of $25,000.

    The system must meet all applicable codes and additional site criteria such as total solar resource fractions, be grid-tied, and be installed by an approved Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor (such as our contractors here at Sunbridge Solar). Residential solar energy systems

    Portland Clean Energy Fund

    The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) was the first environmental initiative in the state of Oregon that was created and led by communities of color, and it was enacted by local ballot measure. Since climate change disproportionately affects people of color as well as low-income residents, the PCEF was created to combat these effects by;

    1. creating and contributing to clean energy projects
    2. providing clean energy job training programs
    3. promoting economic and social benefits, 

    This fund can also be used to provide grants to nonprofits in order to assist with installing solar energy systems.

    Solar Within Reach Program

    The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) also offers a solar incentive for low-income families. The Solar Within Reach program provides cash incentives that help low-income families be able to afford to install a solar panel system, which will cut their energy costs in the long term.

    Income Qualifications

    In order to participate in this program, you must own a residence that falls into one of the following categories: single-family home, multi-family home, manufactured home, floating home, or condo. 

    As with the ETO’s utility incentives, you must work with an Energy Trust-approved solar trade ally contractor (again, like our contractors at Sunbridge Solar). Finally, your gross annual income must not exceed the program limits based on how many people live in your home:

    • 1 resident – $54,240
    • 2 residents – $62,040
    • 3 residents – $69,720
    • 4 residents – $77,520
    • 5 residents – $83,760
    • 6 residents – $89,880
    • 7 residents – $96,120
    • 8 residents – $102,360

    The amount of incentive that you will receive is based on the size of the solar energy system that you decide to install, with a maximum of $1.50 per watt and an incentive cap of $9,000 per home.

    ODOE Rebate for Solar and Battery Backup Systems

    The Oregon Department of Energy recently began offering a new incentive that is meant to help reduce the upfront costs of installing a stand-alone solar energy system or an energy storage system (home solar power plus battery backup). This rebate can cover up to 60% of the net cost of installing your system, with a cap of $5,000 for solar-only systems and a cap of $7,500 for solar plus battery systems.

    Eligibility

    In order to qualify, your installation site must be property that is completely within Oregon state lines and it must score at least 75% on the total solar resource fraction rating, which evaluates the amount of sunlight that your system will ultimately receive. All equipment for the project must be purchased by an ODOE-approved contractor and installed by that same contractor. (Sunbridge is ODOE-approved!)

    Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

    The federal government created an investment tax credit for solar energy in 2005. It was incredibly popular, so they have extended the program several times since then. However, in order to take advantage of this program, homeowners and business owners will need to act fast, since the program is currently ramping down.

    For 2020, both homeowners and business owners can deduct 26% of the net cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal tax liability amount. There is no cap to this benefit, so it is extremely beneficial for larger systems especially. Plus, if the credit amount exceeds your federal tax liability for the year, you can rollover unused credit to subsequent years, but only as long as the program is active.

    Unfortunately, in 2022, the deductible amount will be reduced to 22% of the net cost of the solar energy system, and in 2023 and beyond there will be no incentive for homeowners and only a 10% incentive for business owners.

    This program is applicable throughout the country and to qualify, you simply need to own your own solar energy system, as opposed to renting or leasing it. This program saves new solar energy customers an average of $9,000.

    Year

    Residential

    Commercial

    2020

    26%

    26%

    2021

    26%

    26%

    2022

    26%

    22%

    2023

    22%

    10%

    2024 & Onwards

    None

    10%

    Oregon Net Energy Metering (NEM)

    Net energy metering is an extremely helpful program that saves you money and can drastically shorten the payback period on a solar energy system. Net metering policies vary by state and in fact, not all states allow for net metering. However, Oregon has one of the best net metering policies. It essentially allows you to sell excess energy that your solar panels produce to the grid in exchange for credits on your utility account.

    How Does NEM Work?

    When you install a grid-tied solar energy system, your utility company will install a special two-way electricity meter. This meter will measure both the flow of grid electricity into your home and the flow of energy from your solar panels into the grid.

    This way, it can determine your net energy usage and if you have used more than you put into the grid, you will pay for that difference, or if you put more energy into the grid than you used, you will receive credits on your account.

    This program allows you to essentially use your solar energy even after it is produced since many people are at work or school or otherwise not using much electricity during the daytime when solar panels are producing the most energy.

    how solar net metering works in Washington State graphic

    Earn Credits Throughout the Year

    When you install a grid-tied solar energy system, your utility company will install a special two-way electricity meter. This meter will measure both the flow of grid electricity into your home and the flow of energy from your solar panels into the grid.

    This way, it can determine your net energy usage and if you have used more than you put into the grid, you will pay for that difference, or if you put more energy into the grid than you used, you will receive credits on your account.

    This program allows you to essentially use your solar energy even after it is produced since many people are at work or school or otherwise not using much electricity during the daytime when solar panels are producing the most energy.

    The United States Department of Agriculture offers the Rural Energy for American Power (REAP) grant. This program provides grants as well as guaranteed loan funding to agricultural producers and rural small business owners, for the purpose of improving overall energy efficiency or installing new renewable energy systems.

    To be eligible for this program, you must own a rural business or farm, be financially solvent, and have no outstanding federal taxes, delinquencies, judgments, or debarments. Agricultural producers must earn 50% or more of their gross annual income from the farming operation, which can be in either rural or non-rural locations. Small businesses must be located in rural areas (areas that are not cities or towns with 50,000 or more inhabitants). You can check online to see if your business address qualifies with the USDA’s eligibility map.

    Loans & Grants

    For REAP loans, there is a $5,000 minimum and a $25 million maximum, and all loans are guaranteed up to 85% of the total amount. Capital loans have a 7-year maximum term, equipment and machinery loans have a 15-year maximum term, and real estate and combined real estate and equipment loans have a maximum term of 30 years.

    Grants can be between $1,500 and $250,000. All energy efficiency improvement projects and any project that is going to cost more than $200,000 require a technical report and energy audit before work begins.

    Applications are divided into three categories based on the total anticipated cost so that someone’s $5,000 project isn’t competing against a $500,000 project for funding. Additionally, applicants must cover 75% of the project cost if they are applying for a grant and 25% of the cost if they are applying for a loan or a combination of a loan and grant.

    Ashland Electric Utility Solar Rebate

    The City of Ashland Conservation Division offers a rebate program as well. Homeowners or business owners who own the building or are tenants of the building are eligible for this rebate if they install a new solar energy system that is interconnected with the city’s power grid, net-metered, and compliant with all city permit requirements.

    The site must also earn a total solar resource fraction of 75% (What is TSRF?)or more and have no shading at all between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM. The rebate is offered at $0.50 per watt for residential customers and $0.75 per watt for commercial customers with a maximum of $7,500 per system.

    Source: City of Ashland Conservation Division

    Salem Electric Solar Rebate

    Salem Electric offers a solar rebate program for its residential customers. Solar energy systems must be 25 kW or smaller to be eligible, and applicants must apply for the rebate and gain approval before any work begins on the system. It must be net metered, meet ODOE requirements, and be installed by an ODOE-approved contractor.* The rebate is offered at a rate of $300 per kW, with a cap of 50% of the total cost of the project or $1,500, whichever is less.

    *Sunbridge Solar is an ODOE-approved contractor.

    Columbia River PUD Solar Rebate

    The Columbia River People’s Utility District offers rebates for customers who install solar energy systems through their Choice Energy Solar Rebate program. This rebate is $1,000, and to qualify, the PUD must pre-approve the project before installation begins, the system must be grid-tied and net-metered, and the system must be new and at least 1,000W.

    EWEB Solar Electric Rebate Program

    The Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) offers a rebate program as well, for residential, nonprofit, and government customers who install solar energy systems. For residential customers, the incentive is $0.40 per watt with a maximum rebate of $2,500 and for non-residential customers, the rebate rate is $0.50 per watt with a maximum of $12,500.

    Applicants must submit an application before installation begins, obtain interconnection and net metering agreements, and have a building permit. All system equipment must be UL-listed and the entire system must be inspected by city or county building officials as well as EWEB officials. Finally, the site must score at least 85% on the total solar resource fraction scale.

    Emerald PUD Solar Electric Program

    Emerald People’s Utility District offers various incentives to their customers who install new solar energy systems. The system must be 25 kW or smaller, it must be pre-approved by Emerald PUD for interconnection and net metering, it must be installed by an approved solar contractor, and it must meet site-specific requirements. Incentives vary year to year, so more information can be found on the Emerald PUD website.

    Pacific Power Blue Sky Community Project Funds (Nonprofits)

    Pacific Power has a Blue Sky program where customers voluntarily pay extra on their utility bills each month and then that money is used to fund community-based renewable energy projects within PP’s service area. If you are interested in spearheading such a community-based project, you can submit your plans to Pacific Power with a request for funding.

    All projects must be interconnected with the grid, less than 10 MW in size, non-residential, and locally owned. Each project is evaluated based on several factors such as feasibility, cost, community benefit, and so forth.

    PGE Renewable Development Fund (Nonprofits)

    Portland General Electric offers a similar program for Oregon nonprofits that is funded by voluntary payments. The Renewable Development Fund supports solar projects that are less than 10 MW and interconnected to PGE’s grid or produce power that is delivered to PGE through a power purchase agreement. Funding can also be used for research and development projects and educational programs.

    Is Solar Worth It In Oregon?

    Solar is definitely worth it in Oregon. The state has some of the best solar incentives in the country that can drastically reduce the upfront cost of installing a solar energy system, shorten the payback period, and put more money in your pocket faster. Generally, moderate temperatures mean that your solar panels will not suffer badly from heat-related drops inefficiency, as would happen in the southwest and other very warm climates.

    Despite the stereotype of rainy PNW weather, Oregonians enjoy long sunny summer days and only moderate amounts of snow. Additionally, advanced solar technology means that the sun’s energy can be harvested even on overcast days.

    In general, Oregon homeowners and business owners who install solar energy systems can save an average of $800 per year on their energy bills, while also doing their part to protect the environment and make the move away from fossil fuels.

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