Oregon provides numerous incentives for the use and production of solar energy. Rebates and incentives help to soften the costs of purchasing the equipment necessary for solar energy production. Oregon has a multitude of programs administered by the state, and also many of the public utilities, in addition to federal programs that exist.
The state offers Solar Electric Buy-Downs through its Energy Trust Program: up to $20,000 per home and as high as $800,000 for commercial buildings. Energy Trust also offers the Solar Water Heating Program with a maximum credit of $1500 for a solar water heater, $1000 for solar pool or spa heating, and 35% of system costs for commercial buildings. Homeowners and commercial customers may also participate in the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s Solar Electric Program. Customers with solar collectors can choose net metering with rebates of up to $10,000 for residences and $25,000 for businesses. A large number of the state’s public utility companies also provide rebates for installation of solar systems. Buyers of new homes can save by adding energy efficient measures and passive solar heat, which will earn them an Energy Trust rebate of $125-$8400. The state’s schools also participate in a grant program, Solar 4 R Schools, which pays 100% of the costs for a solar collection system. A side benefit is that students become energy caretakers at a younger age.
Oregon Tax Credits
Oregon offers a 50% tax credit for equipment to harness solar power, up to $10 million, and as much as $20 million for construction or alterations of facilities to manufacture solar energy equipment. Homeowners can earn a $1000 tax credit based on the amount of energy saved by the use of installed solar equipment such as solar water heaters and pool and spa heating systems, and up to $6000 for the installation of a photovoltaic system.
Oregon also offers a tax exemption program of 100%, so there will be no increase in the taxable property value due to installation of solar systems.
The federal government has set up loan programs to encourage the use of solar power, but Oregon also enacted its own Small-Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP) back in 1981. The loans are generally in the range of $20,000 to $20 million. Additionally, there are twelve utility companies in Oregon that offer loans to purchase solar systems, often in conjunction with rebates on those systems.
Oregon also has many “green” building initiatives, which often include creative architecture and building techniques, landscaping for energy savings, and passive solar power, such as the Ashland Green Building Incentive which will increase a home’s density by 15% (with equivalent energy savings) via energy efficient measures and/or renewable energy, including creative architecture and building techniques, landscaping for energy savings, and passive solar power.
Additional information can be found:
DSIRE:Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Oregon Department of Energy
Eugene Water and Electric Board