Solar Legislation Shines in Oregon

This week, Oregon increased their solar incentives by passing a measure to create a 10-year $3 per watt tax credit for residential systems with a cap of $6,000. Despite a tough legislative session facing very difficult financial decisions, the bill passed with overwhelming support.

The new tax credits take affect January 1, 2006 and combined with existing Energy Trust of Oregon solar incentives, Oregon promises to remain the leader of solar hot water and the grid-tied PV industry in the Northwest, according to the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, (OSEIA). Solar in Oregon and the northwest, as you might expect, has not been an easy sell. It’s a little known fact that two thirds of Oregon gets as much sun as available in Florida. Even Oregon’s least sunny location rivals the best locations in Germany. “We like to think the rain keeps our panels cleaner and improves our production of clean PV produced electricity,” said Jon Miller Executive Director OSEIA. With another legislative success, Oregon is quietly becoming a leader in the solar industry. OSEIA said that Oregon places fifth in the nation in solar hot water systems and ninth in the nation in a recently released economic activity study from REPP highlighting states that will prosper from the growing solar PV industry. “Bipartisan support from Oregon Governor Kulongoski and state legislators like Senator Westlund from Bend illustrates how Oregon is taking solar energy seriously,” said Jon Miller, executive director of Oregon SEIA chapter. “They recognize that investing in our largest natural resource, solar energy, makes good economic policy.” State solar incentives now include a residential tax credit up to $1,500 for solar thermal, $1,500 for passive solar space heating, and $6,000 for photovoltaics. The Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) provides up to 35% of RE installation costs, and the State Energy Loan Program (SELP) can offer low cost financing for projects. “Federal, State and Energy Trust incentives makes Oregon one of the best supported markets in the United States”, said Christopher Dymond, senior energy analyst at the Oregon Department of Energy. “Our state can also use the business energy tax credit to buy down up to 25% of the cost of new solar manufacturing facilities – Oregon is without a doubt, open for solar business.” Oregon is eager to take advantage of local support and its location between PV production incentives in Washington, and California’s large solar market. “With this strong showing of support from our legislature, attractive location, and available incentives, Oregon is primed to move into top tier of states competing for solar manufacturing facilities,” said OSEIA’s president and SEIA board member Bob Maynard from Energy Outfitters.
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