Oregon may have a reputation for cloudy days, but the state actually sees plenty of uninterrupted sun, particularly in the summer and fall. By combining cash incentives and state and federal tax credits, residents and commercial businesses can offset up to 80 percent of their initial solar energy investment, according to Energy Trust of Oregon. Seen how residents can take full advantage of solar panels in Oregon.
Panel Report Card
To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:
- Rebates, Tax Credits, and Tax Exemptions from Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency;
- Electricity Rates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration;
- Renewable Energy Policy from NC Clean Energy Technology Center;
- Interconnection Ease from Freeing The Grid;
- Photovoltaic Potential from the Energy Department
We determined a rank from one to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.
Incentives & Rebates, 40%
Electricity Rate, 15%
Renewable Energy Policy, 30%
Interconnection Ease, 5%
Photovoltaic Potential, 10%
Electricity Costs in Oregon
At an average of just under $0.09 per kWh, the cost of electricity for both commercial and residential in Oregon is below the national average. Although they remain relatively low, electricity prices in Oregon have risen steadily since 2005, making solar energy a cost-efficient alternative for conscious consumers. Oregonians currently get most of their electricity from hydroelectric power and natural gas. However, numerous incentives have the potential to increase solar energy’s popularity in Oregon.
Cost of Oregon Residential Electricity
Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015
Library of Resources
Oregon Solar Policies & Incentives
Oregon is one of the most solar-savvy states in the country. The Renewable Portfolio Standard requires the largest utilities to provide 50 percent of electricity from clean, renewable energy sources by 2040. For Oregon residents, there are numerous ways to save on solar energy systems, including up-front solar rebates, solar production incentives, and tax credits. If you combine all of these potential savings with significant recent decreases in residential photovoltaic system prices, the incentives add up.
Utility customers who install brand new solar PV power systems on existing or new homes or commercial buildings are eligible for incentives. The incentive amounts are up to $3,600 for a residence and up to $45,000 or $25,000 per project for a commercial building depending on the utility company. An eligible system has a maximum size of 1,000 kW. The renewable energy credits generated during the first five years belong to the customer.State Energy Loan Program
Low-interest loans are available for home and school solar PV projects. Loans are usually between $20,000 and $20 million, and the terms vary. The terms of the loan cannot exceed the life of the project.New Homes Incentive Program
Builders in Oregon are given cash incentives for building new homes featuring solar PV systems. The incentive amount can start at $600 and go up to $5,000 depending on how energy efficient a home is.EWEB – Solar Electric Program
The Eugene Water & Electric Board’s (EWEB) Solar Electric Program offers rebates for residential, nonprofit, and government customers. Incentive amounts for residential net metered customers is $0.40/W-AC, with a maximum incentive of $2,500 and for non-residential customers, $0.50/W-AC, with a maximum incentive of $12,500.Salem Electric – Photovoltaic Rebate Program
Qualifying net metered systems that are owned and operated in Salem’s service area are eligible to receive a $300 rebate per kW installed. Rebates cannot exceed 50 percent of the total project and depend on the availability of funds. The maximum rebate is $1,500.Central Lincoln People’s Utility District – Renewable Energy Incentive Program
This program provides financial incentives for its commercial and residential customers to install photovoltaic (PV), solar water heating, wind, and hydroelectric systems on their property. PV is eligible for a rebate of $500/kW-DC with a maximum for residential projects of $2,000 and for commercial projects of $5,000.
Incentives are available for net metering customer-generators with solar PV installations through its Choice Energy Solar Rebates. New systems that are at least 1,000 watts (DC) in size are eligible for $1,000.
Commercial customers of investor-owned utilities in the state of Oregon can take advantage of incentives designed to boost energy efficiency through renewable energy projects, such as solar PV systems. The incentives vary by project.Renewable Energy Development Grant Program
Competitive grants are offered for solar PV projects in Oregon. A system must not have a nameplate capacity larger than 35 MW in order to be eligible. The maximum incentive is $250,000, or 35 percent of the total cost of a project.
The solar PV system limit for net metering in Oregon is 2 MW for non-residential systems, while the limit is 25 kW for residential systems. Net excess generation is credited to the next bill of a customer as a KWh credit for a period of 12 months. The customer owns all renewable energy credits that are associated with electricity generation.Energy Trust of Oregon
Portland General Electric and Pacific Power must collect a three percent public-purpose charge from customers. A total of 56.7 percent of the funds that these utilities collect through this charge have to go toward programs that focus on energy efficiency, while more than 17 percent must go toward renewables.Solar Easements & Rights Laws & Local Option Solar Rights Law
Oregon laws protect property owners’ access to solar resources for their solar PV systems. Thus, any provision that prohibits people to use solar power systems is unenforceable/void.Solar Permitting Law
A solar PV system in Oregon may qualify for a simplified process for permitting if it does not increase the peak height or footprint of a residential/commercial structure on which it is installed. The system needs to be aligned in such a way that it remains parallel to the roof’s slope. Cities and counties cannot charge solar power permitting application fees, but they may charge solar project building permit fees.Building Energy Code
Various codes exist to reduce energy consumption in Oregon. One- and two-family buildings have energy efficiency requirements, and all other buildings have energy conservation requirements.Interconnection Standards
Oregon has three sets of interconnection standards that apply to net metered systems, small-generator systems, and large-generator systems. Interconnected net metered systems must be used to offset the customer’s electricity requirements. Residential systems are limited to 25 kW, and non-residential are limited to 2 MW.
None for residential specifically
None or commercial specifically
None for residential/commercial specifically
None for residential specifically
None for commercial specifically
Any changes in a property’s real market value stemming from the installation of a solar PVs system is 100 percent exempt from the assessment of the value of the property for the purpose of collecting property taxes.
None for residential specifically
Commercial properties in Rural Renewable Energy Development Zones set up by multiple contiguous counties or cities may receive a local property tax exemption for three to five years for solar PV systems. There is a locally set cap on the total amount of property that may qualify for the exemption, but it cannot surpass $250 million.
Companies, Contractors & Installers
Oregon residents can choose from more than 149 businesses to help them with their solar energy system installations. When comparing offers, it’s helpful to ask the contractor about the company’s prior solar panel installation experience. It’s also wise to make sure the company is listed with the Oregon Department of Energy to qualify for tax credits and Energy Trust to apply for cash incentives.
The list below will help you get started in your search for solar energy companies in Oregon.
Along with providing a variety of home heating options to Central Oregon residents, Bobcat & Solar specializes in providing solar hot water systems and free estimates.
Where it operatesBend
Year of opening1977
Common Energy is not only active in renewable energy education in the Columbia Gorge Area, it also specializes in the design and installation of on- and off-grid solar energy systems, solar hot water systems and other renewable energy technologies.
Where it operatesHood River
Year of opening2003
This family-owned construction company offers solar PV and solar hot water system installation to homes in Corvallis, Albany and Philomath.
Where it operatesCorvallis
Year of opening1986
Imagine Energy specializes in solar energy system design and installation for residential and commercial buildings. It also has a reputation for pushing for solar energy improvements, like uniform engineering standards and solar safety codes.
Where it operatesPortland
Year of opening2003
Neil Kelly is a Pacific Northwest remodeling company that sells, designs and installs solar PV systems to customers.
Where it operatesBend, Eugene and Portland; serves the Pacific Northwest
Year of opening1947
Solar Assist helps its customers go solar by providing solar hot water and solar energy systems and by making sure customers understand the incentives available to them.
Where it operatesEugene
Year of opening1994
Solar Energy Solutions provides Portland residents with solar energy systems for electricity, water heating and pool heating.
Where it operatesPortland
Year of opening1987
Solar Surfers not only installs solar energy systems for residential and commercial buildings, but also specializes in solar for agriculture and water pumps.
Where it operatesNyssa; serves Oregon and Idaho
Year of opening2009
Synchro Solar is a full-service solar energy company that specializes in custom-designed solar electric and solar hot water systems for residential, commercial and agricultural needs.
Where it operatesPortland; serves Oregon and Southwest Washington
Year of opening2010
Search a database for solar policies and incentives specific to Oregon residents and other U.S. states.
Find renewable energy resources such as residential forms, contractors, and low-cost tips from Energy Trust and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC).
Explore solar energy incentives and search for contractors from OSEIA, sponsors of the Oregon Solar Energy Conference.
Learn about residential energy tax credits for solar energy including solar electric, solar domestic water heating, solar pool heating, passive solar space heating and active solar space heating.
Stay informed about solar energy legislation and access contact information for legislators in Oregon.
Locate energy and analysis statistics for Oregon and other states, including a household energy use fact sheet.