Oregon Solar Rebates, Incentives and Tax Credits

Oregon is by far one of the most progressive states when if comes to enacting solar legislation. The Oregon legislature passed the Renewable Energy Act SB 838 and signed the bill into law on June 6th, 2007. The act requires major utilities to generate at least 25% of their energy from renewables like solar. As far as rebates and incentives go, Oregon utility companies and the state are offering some pretty generous programs which you can find out about if you read on.

Net-metering
Yes Oregon offers net-metering. For an explanation of how it works in the state click here.
Note: Through the city of Ashland’s net metering program, residents and businesses who interconnect renewable energy systems are compensated at full retail cost for electricity generated by renewable energy, up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month
Residential Energy Tax Credit
Homeowners and renters who pay Oregon income taxes are eligible for the Residential Energy Tax Credit if they purchase a home solar power system.
Details:
  • Solar power systems are eligible for $3/Watt (W) with a maximum limit of $6,000, up to 50% of the installed cost. However, the amount claimed in any one tax year may not exceed $1,500 or the taxpayer’s tax liability, whichever is less. Unused credits may be carried forward for five years.
Property Tax Incentives
If you install a home solar power system in Oregon the added value to your home from the installation of solar power system will not be included in the assessment of the property’s value for property tax purposes.
Loan Programs

GreenStreet Lending Program – Energy Trust of Oregon and Umpqua Bank have partnered to offer this loan to homeowners for home solar power systems. These loans have no loan fees, no closing costs, and offer preferred rates to homeowners who are customers of PGE, Pacific Power, NW Natural or Cascade Natural Gas.
Details:

  • Homeowners are eligible for two types of loans, the Home Equity Loan and the Unsecured Home Improvement Loan. The Home Equity Loan is for $5,000 to $50,000, carries a fixed interest rate, and a term of up to 15 years.
  • The Unsecured Home Improvement Loan is for $1,000 to $50,000, carries a fixed interest rate, and has a term of up to 5 years.
Small-Scale Energy Loan Program – The Oregon Small-Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP) – created in 1981 after voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the sale of bonds to finance small-scale, local energy projects – is administered by the Oregon Department of Energy. The sale of bonds is made on a periodic basis and, occasionally, may be done accommodate a particularly large loan request. Loans are available to individuals, businesses, schools, cities, counties, special districts, state and federal agencies, public corporations, cooperatives, tribes, and non-profits.
Details:
  • No legal maximum loan, the size of loans generally ranges from $20,000 to $20 million.
  • Terms vary, but are generally set to match the term of the bonds that funded the loans.
  • Loan terms may not exceed project life.
Production Incentives

The Eugene Water & Electric Board’s (EWEB) Solar Electric Program offers a production Incentive to customers with systems greater than 10 kilowatts (kW) in capacity who choose not to net meter. Under the latter arrangement, all electricity generated is fed into the grid.

Details:

  • Production payment of $0.076-$0.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated, payable for 10 years (but subject to annual review).
  • The level of the incentive varies, depending on the season and level of monthly kWh generation.
  • These “direct generation” systems require a separate EWEB service and electric meter to measure the amount of kWh generated.
  • Under this program, EWEB assumes ownership of all RECs associated with customer generation.

Northwest Solar Cooperative – Green Tag Purchase

The Northwest Solar Cooperative (NWSC) offers to purchase the rights to the environmental attributes or “Green Tags” (also know as RECs) derived from grid-connected home solar power systems at a rate ranging from $0.02 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $0.10/kWh.  The contract term does not have a fixed duration. Interested participants sign an agreement with NWSC to sell their Green Tags, report any system failures and submit AC production meter readings each year. The NWSC agrees to make payments to participants by March 31 of the year following production of Green Tags.

Oregon Pilot Solar Feed-in-Tariff – This program is still being worked out check here for updates.

Rebates

The Eugene Water & Electric Board’s (EWEB) Solar Electric Program offers a rebate for residential customers who choose to net meter of $2.00 per watt-AC, with a maximum incentive of $10,000. Under the rebate program, customers retain ownership of all renewable-energy credits (RECs) associated with customer generation.

Note: All system owners must execute an EWEB interconnection agreement and program agreement. A building permit is required, and all systems must be inspected first by city or county building officials and then by EWEB. All system equipment must be UL-listed. All PV modules and inverters must be listed and rated in the California Energy Commission’s Emerging Renewables Program. This list is available on the California Solar Initiative’s Eligible Solar Equipmentwebsite.

Energy Trust – Solar Electric Buy-Down Program – Available to customers of Pacific Power and PGE who install new home solar power systems on new or existing homes.
Details:
  • For systems owned by homeowners: $1.50/watt-DC (W) installed for Pacific Power customers and $1.75/W for PGE customers, with a $20,000 cap per site.
  • For systems owned by a third party: $1.00/W-DC installed for Pacific Power customers, with a cap of $5,000 and $1.25/W-DC installed for PGE customers, with a cap of $10,000.
Salem Electric – Photovoltaic Rebate Program – $600/kW-AC for first 3 kW, $300/kW for each additional kW; $10,000 per project or 50% of project cost, whichever is less.
Consumers Power, Inc. – Solar Energy System Rebate – The rebate for solar PV systems is $500 per kilowatt-DC (kW); To be eligible for the rebate, solar energy systems must be installed by a State of Oregon certified contractor and qualify for the State of Oregon tax credits.

Central Electric Cooperative – Solar Rebates – rebate program for net metered installations. The system must be less than 25 kW, be inspected and approved by CEC, then a customer is eligible for a cash rebate of $500 per kW of installed capacity with a maximum rebate of $1,500 per system. See the brochure or contact CEC for more information.

Ashland Electric Utility – Photovoltaic Rebate Program – rebate of $2.25 per watt, up to a maximum of $7,500 per system. In order to qualify, the home solar power system needs a total solar resource fraction of at least 75% (basically this means your system must produce at least 75% of the electricity that a similar system in your area would produce with optimal tilt, orientation and no external shading – don’t worry a qualified solar contractor will be able to explain this in more detail), and no shading by a tree between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM (on December 21). Systems must be interconnected with the City’s electrical grid and net metered.

Utility Loan Programs – for solar water heating

Example
Location
 Portland, OR
Av. Monthly Electricity Bill$102
Annual Electricity Usage14,400 kWh
Av. Cost of Electricity$0.092
System Size6.65 kW
Estimated Electricity Production annually7,197 kWh
Cost / Watt (installed)$7.00
Cost Breakdown
Total Cost$46,550
Rebates
OR State Personal Tax Credit ($ 3 per watt DC)$6,000 (limited to $1,500 each year)
Pacific Power rebate > link – ($1.50/Watt)$9,975
Federal Tax Incentive (calculated after state rebate)$9,172
NET COST$21,403
NET COST at Installation$27,403
Cash Flow
New Av. Monthly Electric Bill$51
Monthly Loan Payment on $27,403$164 (30 yr, 6%, 0 down)
Tax Saving$52*
Monthly deduction for tax credits ($1,500 paid each year for 4 years) > link
$125
NEW MONTHLY NET COST  year 1-4 (estimated)$38
NEW MONTHLY NET COST  year 5-30 (estimated)$163
Environmental Benefits
Greenhouse Gas (CO2) Saved:
over 25-year system life
148 tons

* Tax savings will decrease as the principal is paid down. Please consult your tax preparer.

 


Oregon has some pretty cheap electricity rates right now, which is keeping your electric bill low. Consider this, if electricity rates increase at 5% annually, in five years you will be paying $130 instead of $102. By installing your own home solar power system, each year you are paying off an energy system that is getting closer to energy independence. If you want to find out how a home solar power systems pencils out for you, then fill out our free estimate form and we will put you in touch with qualified Oregon Solar installers.