Oregon Welcomes New Solar Business Policy

In Oregon’s recently ended legislative session, Governor Ted Kulongoski has shown a strong commitment to renewable energy with policy announcements and the passage of a number of bills.

The new policies will drive the demand for renewable energy projects and increase the level of workforce needed to install those new systems. Oregon has already ranked 5th in the U.S. for solar hot water systems and in the top 10 with PV.

Oregon’s solar industry is growing at over 30% annually and expects a large increase in the number and size of installations of both hot water and PV systems. That growth will continue with the governor’s recent policy initiatives.

The Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) is now 50% of eligible project costs of up to $20M; a tax exemption for solar net-metered systems passed along with a statewide public buildings solar provision requiring 1.5% of the construction budget to fund onsite solar technologies.

A signature piece of legislation, a Renewable Energy Standard (RES), also passed requiring 25% renewables by 2025. The RES includes a provision that extends funding for the Energy Trust of Oregon until 2025. The ETO funds programs for both solar hot water and PV system installations.

Along with the legislation passed above, Oregon is raising its net metering for investor-owned utilities (IOU) to 2 MW. IOUs serve over 75% of Oregon’s utility customers. The new 2MW limit, designned after the New Jersey standard, is expected to become final in September 2007.

“This will be remembered as a banner year for solar energy in Oregon,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “The steps we have taken this session with a renewable energy standard, tax incentives and greenhouse emission mandates have put us on a path to become the national center for renewable energy development and production.”

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