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Looking to start saving money and energy today? Oregon solar incentives are offered, often in the form of cash-rebates, clean energy tax credits, or grants, that help lower the upfront cost of installing brand new solar installation.
Oregon solar incentives may change year to year depending on political will in the Salem state capitol. 2020 has brought a few new incentive options, dropping the cost of solar energy systems to its lowest-ever price.
Energy Trust of Oregon Solar IncentivesThe Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) manages a few different Oregon solar incentives for commercial buildings and residential solar for customers of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power. Here’s what they are offering in 2020:
Solar Within Reach: Low-Income Solar Power GrantsThis program is designed to help income-qualified households by making the solar energy system installation process more affordable. It offers increased cash incentives (as much as $9,000) as well as a federal energy tax credit. The Solar Within Reach qualifications are as follows:
Site Qualifications:You must own one of the following types of homes:
- Single-family home
- Floating home
- Manufactured home
- Multi-family home (duplex, triplex, fourplex, or attached side-by-side units)
Income Qualifications:The maximum income qualification is based on the number of residents in the home and the corresponding maximum gross annual income:
- One resident: $54,240 or less
- Two residents: $62,040 or less
- Three residents: $69,720 or less
- Four residents: $77,520 or less
- Five residents: $83,760 or less
- Six residents: $89,880 or less
- Seven residents: $96,120 or less
- Eight residents: $102,360 or less
Pacific Power Solar and Portland General Electric Solar RebatesIf you are a customer of either Pacific Power or Portland General Electric (PGE) and do not qualify for the low-income program we outlined above, you are still eligible for either of these Oregon solar incentives as part of the comprehensive push by local and state governments. You could receive a cash rebate of between 20 and 25 cents per watt if you own your own solar panel system (as opposed to leasing it from a third party owner). Most home solar panel systems are in the neighborhood of 6 kilowatts (6,000 watts), which means you could earn up to $1,500 just for installing your system with this Oregon solar incentive.
Oregon Department of Energy Solar and Battery Backup IncentivesThis new rebate from the Oregon Department of Energy is designed to help mitigate the upfront costs for installing stand-alone solar energy systems as well as solar energy plus home battery backup systems. If you qualify, these rebates can cover up to 60% of the net system cost, up to $5,000 for stand-alone solar energy systems and up to $7,500 for solar energy plus home battery backup systems.
- The solar energy system, as well as the battery backup system, must be installed on property within Oregon state lines.
- The entire project must be purchased and installed by the same ODOE-approved contractor to be eligible.
- The solar energy system installation must have a minimum of 75% Total Solar Resource Fraction (What is TSRF?).
REAP Grant: Rural Energy for American Power Grant
On top of Oregon solar incentives, the USDA REAP Grant through the federal government provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses, in order to install or improve renewable energy systems. These funds can be used for all types of renewable energy systems, including:
- Wind generation
- Solar Generation, and
- Ocean generation (tidal power, etc)
They can also be used for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, doors and windows, conversion from diesel to electric irrigation motors, solar sprinkler pivots, and high-efficiency HVAC systems.
USDA Grant Qualifications:
- Agricultural producers in rural or non-rural areas who earn at least 50% of their gross income from agricultural operations.
- Small businesses in rural areas (in areas other than a city or town with a population over 50,000). You can check your business address to see if it’s eligible.
- You must have no outstanding federal taxes, debt, judgment, or debarment in order to be eligible.
- You must provide at least 75% of the cost if you are applying for a grant only, or 25% of the project cost if you are applying for a loan or a loan/grant combination. Projects with a cost greater than $200,000 will require a technical report.
- An energy audit or assessment is required for energy efficiency projects.
USDA Loan Terms:
- Up to 85% loan guarantee
- A minimum amount of $5,000 and a maximum amount of $25 million
- Maximum of 30 years term for real estate, or combined real estate and equipment
- Maximum of 15 years term for machinery and equipment
- Maximum of 7 years term for capital loans
- Renewable energy: $2,500 minimum and $500,000 maximum
- Energy efficiency: $1,500 minimum and $250,000 maximum
26% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Solar Power
The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), or better known simply as the federal solar tax credit, was originally established in 2005 but was so popular and successful that Congress has extended the expiration date multiple times. It now offers a tax credit to homeowners and businesses who install solar energy systems through 2021.
For 2020, both residential and commercial solar energy system owners can deduct 26% of the cost of the system from their taxes, and in 2021 the percentage will drop to 22%.
After the Solar Energy Tax Credit Ends
Currently, there will be no solar energy tax credit for homeowners in 2022 or beyond, although owners of new commercial solar energy systems will be able to deduct 10% of the cost of their system from their taxes. So, if you plan to take advantage of this tax credit, you should install your solar energy system sooner rather than later. There is no cap on this percentage-based incentive.
Conveniently, even if you don’t have enough income tax liability in the year of your installation to claim the entire credit, you may roll over the remaining tax credits into future years. However, only as long as the tax credit is in effect.
You must own your system to be eligible, not lease it from a third party. The average savings from taking advantage of this tax credit is around $9,000.
Oregon Net Metering
Oregon net metering can be hugely beneficial if you install a solar energy system in terms of saving you money, and even possibly earning you money. When you install your solar system, your utility provider will exchange (at no charge) your standard meter for a bidirectional net meter.
The net meter measures both the amount of energy that you receive from your provider as well as how much energy you supply to the grid if your solar energy system generates more power than you consume.
How It Works
When you generate exactly the amount of energy that you use in a month, your net meter would read 0 kWh, and you would only be charged the monthly utility service charge, which is generally around $10-12.
If your system generates more power than you use in a month, your net meter would read a negative number of kWh, and the correlating dollar amount would be credited to your account for future use. If you produce some energy but not enough to cover your monthly energy consumption, the amount that you generated would still be subtracted from your monthly bill.
In this way, you can accumulate credit during the sunny summer months and then apply that credit to your bills in the winter, when your solar energy production will be lower and your energy demands higher. Essentially, you are “selling” your excess power back to the grid so that you can take maximum advantage of your solar energy system.
Is Solar Worth It In Oregon?
Despite Oregon’s location in the generally rainy Pacific Northwest, it is still worth it to invest in solar energy, for several reasons.
- First, Oregon has very long, usually quite sunny summer days. As we outlined above, net metering can come in very handy by generating large energy credits in the summer, which can then be applied in the winter.
- Additionally, Oregon summer days are usually still fairly mild in temperature, which means that you won’t be running air conditioners constantly and thereby using up all of your extra solar energy.
- Next, solar panel technology has improved in leaps and bounds, and today’s panels can capture even scattered light, such as that which is generated on overcast days.
- Finally, solar incentives in Oregon are some of the country’s best because as a state, it’s very dedicated to the conversion to green and renewable energy sources. Just by installing a solar energy system, homeowners and business owners save an average of over $800 per year in terms of energy costs.
In addition, the grants and rebates that we have outlined above can drastically reduce your upfront costs. This means that your solar energy system will pay itself off sooner and solely generate money through energy savings.
So, no matter the season, you will at least be harvesting some energy nearly every single day. Despite the frequent rain, many days in Oregon will be brightly overcast or even sunny for at least a portion of each day.