Do not be deceived by some of our rainy cloudy days. Oregon has as many sunny days as the national average. There is 578.94 MW* of solar currently installed in the state, as of Q3 2018, which is enough solar energy to power 74,185 homes (*SEIA statistic).
Germany has been a leader of solar photovoltaic installations (now ranked 3rd in in the world) and does not come close the number of sunny days we have in Oregon. In fact, their sunniest day still produces less solar electricity than our cloudiest areas of Oregon.
Does solar work in Oregon?
Yes! Solar absolutely works in Oregon. Some parts of the coastline may not be the sunniest places in the state, but most areas have great solar production. Your home must meet certain criteria, but if you are a good candidate, you will be producing clean renewable energy in as little as 30 days and will continue to produce for decades into the future.
What incentives are available for Residential Solar installation in Oregon?
Federal Tax Credit: 30% federal tax credit. Since the utility incentive is a rebate paid directly to the contractor, the tax basis for the homeowner is calculated less the utility incentive from total system cost.
Utility Incentives: Some utilities offer cash incentives for going solar that help reduce the customer's out-of-pocket cost.
For customers of PGE and Pacific Power, there are cash incentives available through the Energy Trust of Oregon.
PGE: $0.45 per watt up to a $3,600 maximum
Pacific Power: $0.45 per watt up to a $3,600 maximum
For some other utilities, there are cash incentives available directly through the utility.
EWEB: $0.40 per watt up to $2,500 maximum (*Note: this is calculated on the AC side and not the DC like other utilities)
EPUD: $0.50 per watt up to $2,500 maximum (*Note: this is currently not available for 2019, subject to change)
Salem Electric: $300 per kilowatt up to $1,500 maximum, cannot exceed 25 kilowatts
Central Lincoln PUD: $500 per kilowatt DC up to $2,000 maximum.
Other utilities may also offer cash incentives. Net metering policies vary among utilities. Some offer kilowatt credits, while others will buy back your power at either the wholes sale rate or the retail rate.
**Not all utilities offer cash incentives. The incentives are available as long as there is funding and are subject to change.
What incentives are available for Commercial Solar installations in Oregon?
Oregon State Tax Credit: No Incentives currently available. However, sometimes there are special grants or loan programs available through the Oregon Department of Energy.
Federal Tax Credit: 30% federal tax credit.
Accelerated Depreciation:You can depreciate the solar electric system you place into service for your business using the five year MACRS depreciation schedule. Accelerated depreciation rules allow 85% of the tax basis to be depreciated over a 5-year period (where any unused depreciation can be carried back 2 years and forward 20 years) on a 200% declining balance basis. This means that the 85% of solar PV system costs that a business can depreciate are not spread out evenly across the 5-year depreciation period; instead, the business is allowed to deduct a larger portion of this amount in earlier years, giving it the benefit of a greater immediate reduction in federal tax liability.
Utility Incentives: For customers of PGE and Pacific Power, there are incentives available through the Energy Trust of Oregon.
0-15 kilowatt system is $0.50 per watt.
16-200 kilowatt system, the sliding scale is $0.50-$0.20* per watt
$40,000 maximum (calculated at 200kw ceiling). Project size capped at 400 kw for accepted interconnection
0-15 kilowatt system is $0.35 per watt
16-125 kilowatt system there is a sliding scale of $0.35-$0.20* per watt
$25,000 maximum (calculated at 121kw ceiling). Project size capped at 250 kw for accepted interconnection
*Non-linear incentive rate calculation
Although PGE and Pacific Power have the best utility incentives for commercial projects in Oregon, other smaller utility companies may also offer solar incentives. For example, Central Lincoln PUD offers $500 per kilowatt DC up to $5,000 maximum. Call us today to find out if your utility offers a commercial solar incentive.
**The incentives are available as long as there is funding and are subject to change.
What incentives are available for Agricultural and Rural Businesses?
In addition to the commercial incentives available, there are USDA grants and loan guarantees available for agricultural and rural businesses. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems.
To qualify for the REAP, you must be an agricultural producer with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations and small businesses in eligible rural areas.
The following funding is available:
Loan guarantees up to 75% of the total eligible project costs
Grants for up to 25% of the total eligible project costs
Combined grant and loan guarantee funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs
Note: There are deadlines for the REAP program. Currently, they are excepting applications for grants less than $20,000 with an April 1, 2019 deadline, unrestricted grants/ grant combo with an April 1, 2019 deadline, energy audit and renewable energy development assistance with a January 31, 2019 deadline, and guaranteed loans have a continuous application cycle.
Do I have to pay cash for the system or are there financing options?
We are always looking to build relationships with lenders that will provide the best terms for our customers. We currently offer 100% no money down financing. Our partner is Sungage Financial. They offer a split loan program where they allow all of the Federal Tax Credit to go in a no interest, no payment same as cash loan due June following the first tax year. So for 2019 installs, that would be June 2020. The remaining balance will be put in a term loan, where the first monthly payment will be due 60 days following the final disbursement of the loan to the contractor. The monthly payment will depend on the term selected by the customer.
Sungage offers 4 terms:
5 year (5.74%), 10 year (6.49%) ,15 year (6.99%), and 20 year (7.49%).
The interest rate corresponds to the term and not your credit score, and are very competitive for what you could get for a HELOC at a bank. Only you are using the solar equipment as collateral and not your home, so no home appraisal required! Getting approved is quick and easy, only taking a few minutes of your time. The basic criteria is you own the home, have a credit score of at least 640, and a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less.
There are two local institutions that support lending for renewable energy projects (Clackamas Federal Credit Union and Umpqua Bank). These programs offer favorable rates and terms, and may waive associated fees. If you use a home equity line of credit to pay for your solar project, the interest on your loan may be tax deductible.
How long does it take to install solar?
It takes about 3-8 weeks on average from contract signing to installation. There are many moving parts to getting a solar project built. We handle every aspect of the project from initial sight evaluation through your system being turned on. We coordinate all of the paperwork needed and secure the necessary permits for building your project. Certain times of the year, our project timelines may increase.
I live in an HOA, can they deny a solar installation?
No. Oregon has adopted laws to prevent them from doing so. However, we do need to submit the proper paperwork to them and they may make small requests, such as painting the conduit black to match the roof.
Does solar work if the power goes out?
Not typically for a grid tied system. If the grid goes down, your system goes down. There are a few options to get around this. If we install a SMA inverter you have the option of adding a secure power supply. A secure power supply is a 120 volt 2,000 watt outlet. This allows you to tap into your solar if the grid goes down. However, this will not support much more than a few items and will only work during the day when the sun is out. Adding batteries, also referred to as a hybrid solar system, is also possible. When you add batteries, your break-even point increases since it can be costly to add the "off-grid" components. We do install off-grid and grid-hybrid systems and are happy to provide you with a quote.