Net Metering: Why Solar Can Work With Rainy Winters

Solar energy works incredibly well in the rainy areas of Oregon. This is due, in part, to a clever legal solar incentive called “net metering.”

Under a net metering agreement, you will use any solar electricity that you need at your home, first. Then, when you generate more power than you use, your utility will credit your account — at the same rate they normally charge you!

This makes solar energy an excellent fit here in Oregon and Washington because our long, sunny summer days are excellent for generating power. Most home owners significantly over-produce power during the summer and then automatically use the extra credits they earn during the winter and fall.

​Your solar credits are managed automatically by the utility, so there is no extra effort required on your part.

Also, contrary to popular belief, solar panels on your home do work when skies are cloudy. They do not produce as much power, of course, but even small bursts of sun can give your winter generation a significant boost.

When a solar panel system is sized correctly for your home, it is even possible to off-set most of your annual costs! However, you may wish to design a solar installation that maximizes your return on investment. This requires additional solar energy incentives, which we will cover in detail, next.

The Federal Solar Tax Credit

The federal government offers a tax credit that covers 30% of your total solar installation costs, including parts and labor.

This tax credit can be taken in the same year you install panels on your home and it is easy to claim. You must first subtract your utility cash incentive from the total amount, however.

It is important to note that the federal tax credit program is ending. In order to take advantage of the full 30% rate, you must install a solar energy system before January 1st, 2020.

​Here are the scheduled changes you can expect as you plan your solar energy investment:

  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019
  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2021
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 01/01/2022
  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2021.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

After Jan 1st, 2023, only commercial installations may take a 10% credit

Energy Trust of Oregon Cash Incentive

For PGE and Pacific Power Customers ONLY

In addition to tax credits, there are cash incentives offered by PGE and Pacific Power. These cash incentives are funded by a small charge on every rate-payer’s monthly bills.

  • Portland General Electric: $0.5/watt , $4,000 maximum incentive per home
  • Pacific Power: $0.5/watt , $4,000 maximum incentive per home

Incentive offers are subject to funding availability and may change at any time. Check with your installer or Energy Trust of Oregon.

Note: Avila Solar provides technical and financial advise but does not develop, sell or install energy systems or equipment. This work is done by independent businesses that are solely responsible for the quality and performance of their installations.

How Does the Energy Trust of Oregon Cash Incentive Work?

The Energy Trust Incentive is only available to PGE and Pacific Power Customers. The nonprofit administrator for these cash incentives is called the Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO).

If you are a customer of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power, and you install solar on your house or property, you may be eligible. Ground-mounted solar arrays can qualify as well.

However, you must first confirm a 75% (or better) solar window at your home. You must also work with an Energy Trust Trade Ally contractor. We can save you the time researching and finding the right installer for your project. After our free home or business consultation we will work for you to get you the best Energy Trust Ally for your project.