Oregon businesses interested in putting the sun to work are getting some help from Energy Trust of Oregon. Cash incentives and the size limit of systems eligible for incentives were recently increased for solar electric systems for businesses.
“While market momentum for residential solar installations has remained strong, demand for solar by businesses has waned,” said Peter West, director, energy programs, Energy Trust, noting that incentives and federal and state tax benefits for businesses have declined more rapidly than prices of solar electric equipment. “We determined that our incentives were insufficient to motivate customers given the current business conditions.” Energy Trust will allocate incentive funds in a way that allows the largest number of customers to take advantage of its solar program.
“Solar electric generation is a good investment for businesses and for utility ratepayers,” said West. “It’s also a key resource in Oregon’s renewable energy portfolio.”
According to the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, solar companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Oregon since 2007 with more than a dozen component-part manufacturers, and at least 100 distribution and installation firms employing more than 2,000 people. Executive Director Glenn Montgomery cites Energy Trust as a prime reason for Oregon’s thriving solar economy and agrees that a stable solar industry requires both residential and business sectors to be strong.
“The technical assistance and cash incentives from Energy Trust have spurred a dramatic increase in the adoption of solar in Oregon, especially for residential systems,” said Montgomery. “We applaud Energy Trust for seeking ways to bolster the commercial sector and broaden the base of what can be a long term, viable clean energy sector.”
For Portland General Electric customers, the incentive rises to $1.20 per watt of installed capacity for systems up to 35 kilowatts, up from $1.00 per watt. The incentive for systems 36-200 kW starts at $1.20 per watt and declines to $0.60 per watt as the system increases in size. The maximum incentive for a single customer is $120,000 and the maximum system size eligible for incentives is 1,000 kW.
For customers of Pacific Power in Oregon, the incentive rises to $1.10 per watt of installed capacity for systems up to 35 kilowatts, up from $0.75 per watt. The incentive for systems 36-200 kW starts at $1.10 per watt and declines to $0.50 per watt as the system increases in size. The maximum incentive for a single customer is $100,000 and the maximum system size eligible for funding is also 1,000 kW.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission, which oversees the operations of Energy Trust, recently set a performance benchmark for Energy Trust to install 0.66 aMW of solar and small wind generation in 2013. Energy Trust intends to reach half of that goal through commercial and industrial solar installations.