Solar Grants In Oregon
Many people are aware that homeowners and business owners are eligible for incentives when they install solar energy systems, but it’s less well-known that nonprofits can also receive incentives for solar electric systems. In this article, we’ll cover several of the grants for solar panels for nonprofits in Oregon
PGE Renewable Development Fund
Portland General Electric offers a similar program where their customers can invest in one of several Green Futures options, with their contributions funding the PGE Renewable Development Fund. The program has been active since 1999 and has so far contributed over $16.5 million to more than 75 projects, creating a total of over 16.6 MW of new renewable energy sources in the community.
Preference for funding is given to projects hosted by a nonprofit or public entity (or in partnership with one) and to projects located within PGE’s service area or owned by a customer of PGE. Priority will also be given to projects that promote environmental justice and/or benefit the community educationally or economically.
Finally, projects whose managers can demonstrate that they have made efforts to obtain funding from all other available sources will be given preference. The fund can often cover the remainder of the cost left over after other funding like tax credits, donations, other grants, and creative fundraising efforts have been pursued.
All applications for grants are reviewed by a third party. Grant awards vary in the amount on a case-by-case basis, per project scope and the amount of available funding for the year. Funding may be used to install renewable energy systems, to perform research and development to advance the renewable energy sector in the community or to provide educational programming surrounding projects that have been funded by the Renewable Development Fund.
Pacific Power Blue Sky Program
Pacific Power has a Blue Sky program, which is funded by customers who opt to match all or part of their monthly electric utility bills in order to support renewable energy. This fund is then disbursed to nonprofits and other community-based renewable energy projects, such as at schools, community centers, arts organizations, and fish habitat restoration projects throughout Pacific Power’s service area.
This program has been active since 2006 and has so far funded more than 140 new renewable energy projects. Awards can cover up to 100% of the installation costs for qualifying projects, although the exact incentive amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis after the application is received. Funding is not guaranteed upon submission of an application.
Eligibility requirements include that the solar power system must be grid-tied, less than 10 MW, non-residential, locally-owned, and located at a site that’s within Pacific Power’s service area.
Recipients of funding from the Blue Sky program are expected to submit quarterly progress reports from the time of award through the completion of the project and notify Pacific Power of any changes to the original project plan. A final report and detailed financial summary must be submitted when the project is completed and documentation of any additional grant funding that was obtained after the award of the Blue Sky funding.
Read More: Other Incentives by Pacific Power
The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) works a bit differently: it is funded by a Clean Energy Surcharge, which is a 1% surcharge applied to large retailers whose gross revenue exceeds $1 billion throughout the United States and $500,000 within the City of Portland. However, basic goods, medications, and services that are available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are exempt from this surcharge. The revenue from this surcharge is estimated to be between $44 million and $61 million annually.
The PCEF prioritizes financing for clean energy and energy infrastructure projects, regenerative agriculture practice implementation projects, clean energy job training programs, and any other projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or otherwise create social, economic, and environmental benefits within the community of Portland. Projects that benefit Portland’s underserved communities are given particular priority, especially for low-income residents and communities of color.
Examples of projects that meet these targets include things like multifamily housing unit efficiency upgrades, clean energy sector workforce training programs for unemployed or underemployed residents (especially for women, people of color, people who have disabilities, and other minority groups), shared community food gardens, and projects that aim to increase tree canopy levels in neighborhoods that are heavily paved over.
Creation of PCEF
This fund was created as a ballot measure and passed with overwhelming support, and is designed specifically to provide grants that benefit historically underserved communities who have had less access to the benefits of renewable energy and are simultaneously the most affected by climate change issues such as wildfire smoke, extreme heat, flooding, vector-borne diseases, and so forth.
Grants are also available to help offset the cost of solar feasibility studies, which are often required as part of the application process for grant project funding. Here are three examples of solar feasibility study grants that are available in Oregon for customers of PGE and Pacific Power:
Solar Early Design
The Solar Early Design is part of the bundle of Energy Trust incentives to help push the pace of solar adoption. It provides up to $500, just for having a Solar Trade Ally present at your Early Design Assistance meeting.
Solar Ready Design
This incentive is also offered by the Energy Trust of Oregon, and it offers up to $15,000 to build any new construction projects up to the ETO’s solar-ready standards if it’s not possible to install a complete solar energy system at the time of construction.
Solar Development Assistance Grant
This grant offers up to $1,800 to help project managers determine the solar potential of a site.
If you’d like to learn more about how solar energy systems work or if you have questions about any of the grants for solar panels for nonprofits in Oregon, give us a call (360-313-7190) at Sunbridge Solar. Our team of solar installers will be more than happy to provide a free solar consultation and project quote.