Off-Grid, Solar

Oregon’s Largest Solar Array Made Possible by State Incentives

It all started when Stuart Barr began researching solar panels for his ranch’s off grid well pump over 3 years ago. Now, under construction is a solar array that is the largest PV system to be installed in the Pacific Northwest. This 450 kilowatt (kW) system will generate almost 500,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per year and feed its green electricity directly into the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s (EWEB) grid system.

It was a combination of tax credits, financial incentives and the prospect of selling the power generated at a premium rate that attracted Barr’s VP of Finance, Randy Friesen, to solar energy. “The tax benefits for installing a solar electric system are substantial and the prospect of EWEB paying us 15 cents per kilowatt-hour generated is appealing,” said Friesen. “I don’t know why more businesses aren’t taking advantage of this. It makes financial sense and it’s the right thing to do.”

The package of incentives and tax credits that closed the deal for Barr and Industrial Finishes included $72,000 per year in generation payments from EWEB, $1.6 million in Business Energy Tax Credits from the Oregon Department of Energy, a $960,000 Federal Tax Credit, and an accelerated 5-year state and federal tax depreciation schedule. In addition to the financial incentives the environmental benefits are substantial. Over its lifetime the system will save over 13,000 tons of greenhouse gases or the equivalent of 1.3 million gallons of gasoline.

As a condition of the 10-year contract with EWEB, all solar electric systems receiving incentives must be directly connected to the local utility grid. This allows EWEB to then resell this renewable electricity to its customers under its new “Greenpower” program.