Over the past 20 years, Energy Trust of Oregon has helped grow the solar industry in Oregon, bringing the benefits of clean, renewable power to Oregon families and businesses. This spring marks a significant milestone as Energy Trust supports its 25,000th solar project, a group of townhomes built by Habitat for Humanity in Bend. Solar on these homes will cover more than half of the electricity use for the families who live there.
“Building homes that use less energy is so important to us because it’s more than lowering utility bills,” said Darrion Cotroneo, director of development for Habitat for Humanity. “We’re creating affordable homes that will also be safe, comfortable places to live for many generations to come.”
Energy Trust supports solar in several ways including by offering cash incentives to make solar projects more affordable. Since 2002, Energy Trust incentives have led to more than 250 megawatts of solar energy for families, businesses and communities through individual, community solar and utility scale projects.
“We’re incredibly proud of this milestone and are looking forward to helping connect more Oregonians to solar energy over the coming years,” said David McClelland, senior program manager for solar at Energy Trust. “As part of that work, we’re creating new ways to bring solar to more communities, so everyone benefits from a clean energy future.”
Trade Ally Network key to growth of solar in Oregon
The Energy Trust Trade Ally Network was a key component in reaching 25,000 projects. By building a trusted group of solar contractors, Energy Trust helped create a new green workforce of licensed, qualified installers.
Joe Mazzarella, with Sunlight Solar Energy in Bend, credits solar incentives with helping contractors grow their businesses and helping more people reduce their carbon footprint.
“As the state moves to 100% renewable energy, solar will look more attractive as energy prices increase,” said Mazzarella. “It’s empowering to produce your own power while lowering your utility bills and Energy Trust is helping us provide a turnkey solution to make that happen for more and more people across the state.”
In March 2023, Sunlight Solar Energy installed Energy Trust’s 25,000th solar project. Working with Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity, Sunlight Solar Energy installed solar on eight newly built, energy-efficient homes in the Watercress Townhomes community. The company has now installed solar at roughly 40 Habitat for Humanity homes in the region over the last several years, all with solar systems designed to cover 50-100% of the residents’ annual electricity usage.
Focused on equity, Energy Trust seeks to make solar more accessible
To help more people see those benefits, Energy Trust offers higher cash incentives for households that qualify through the Solar Within Reach program, which helps low-income households lower the cost of solar installation.
Energy Trust is also supporting new ways to bring solar to more communities. For example, Solar Ambassadors is a pilot program convening seven community-based organizations in Oregon that will develop new strategies to connect more communities of color to solar energy. Once complete, their work will be shared with similar organizations nationwide. Energy Trust also works with organizations like Community Energy Project, which has installed solar and other energy upgrades for families at no cost.
“As we look to the future, our focus is on finding new ways to bring the benefits of solar to everyone,” said McClelland. “Solar energy will help us reach our climate goals, while also lowering costs for families and small businesses to build strong communities.”
With incentives from Energy Trust, federal tax credits and rebates from the state of Oregon, there has never been more support for installing solar. For those who are interested in considering solar, Energy Trust can help you with a no-cost analysis and bid.