SolarReviews | Oregon Solar Power Rebates and Incentives

Rebates and Incentives for home solar power panels in Oregon Oregon volume based performance incentives

In June 2009, Oregon established a pilot solar volumetric incentive rate and payment program. Under this incentive program, systems are paid for the kilowatt-hours (kWh) generated over a 15 year period, at a rate set at the time a system is initially enrolled in the program. The pilot program installation cap is limited to an aggregate cap of 25 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), with a maximum system size cap of 500 kilowatts (kW). The aggregate program cap will be spread equally over four years, with 6.25 MW of capacity being eligible to receive the incentive each year. The rates that are applicable are set out below but the real issue here is that the total capacity is very small and so it is a lottery as to whether or not your proposed system will be entitled to the payments below

Volumetric Incentive Rates 

Rate Class


Electric Companies

Small-Scale Systems (10 kW or less)

Medium-Scale Systems (>10 kW and 100 kW or less)


Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill

Pacific Power and PGE




Coos, Douglas and Hood River

Pacific Power and PGE




Gilliam, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Wallowa and Wasco

Pacific Power




Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur and Harney

Pacific Power and Idaho Power



Systems sized larger than 100 kW can participate in the competitive bidding portion of this program. A total of 5 MW of the aggregate cap is reserved for the competitive bidding portion of the program. Utilities will issue a request for proposals once per year. At that time, systems can put in a bid to participate and winning bids will be selected based solely on price factors. The actual rate paid will be determined by bids received and will be set at the time of enrollment. Systems receiving the incentive payment may have reduced eligibility for some other state incentives. Systems may either take the incentive payment or the state tax credit and Energy Trust rebate; systems are not eligible for the incentive payment and the tax credit and rebate. Enrollment in the pilot program will be closed when the 25 MW cap is reached, or on March 31, 2015, whichever is earlier.

EWEB solar electric program

EWEB also has a scheme that offers the choice of either an upfront rebate for customers who choose to net meter, or a performance incentive for customers who choose not to net meter . The rebate for residential customers who choose to net meter is $1.70 per watt-AC, with a maximum incentive of $6,000. The rebate for commercial customers who choose to net meter is $1.00 per watt-AC, with a maximum incentive of $20,000. Under the rebate program, customers retain ownership of all renewable-energy credits (RECs) associated with customer generation. There is a reservation system for customers taking the rebate under the net metering program, with aggregate caps for each of three reservation periods. Again the problem comes down to capacity within these caps and many systems miss out.

State Tax Credit

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are eligible for $2.10 per peak watt (W) with a maximum limit of $6,000, up to 50% of the net cost. The net cost is calculated after taking any state incentives. However, the amount claimed in any one tax year may not exceed $1,500 or the taxpayer's tax liability, whichever is less. Unused credits may be carried forward for five years. As of January 1, 2011, residents that are leasing a solar system are also eligible for the tax credit.

Oregon's renewable energy portfolio standard Oregon has also enacted a renewable portfolio standard. This standard has the following targets and uses the standard based on 1 REC being equal to 1 mWh:

  • 15% by 2015
  • 20% by 2020
  • 25% by 2025

The schem has set an ACP (alternative compliance payment level at $50 per MWh but has also given solar a double rating so that one solar REC is effectively worth 2 MWh's of production, or two REC's from another renewable energy source. As such this sets a notional value of Rec's from solar at $100. Although the real value is subject to marker forces. RPS compliance must be demonstrated through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS). RECs may be either bundled with, or purchased separately from, electricity contracts. Unbundled RECs can only meet 20% of a large utility's compliance obligation and 50% of a large consumer-owned utility's obligation

Energy Trust- solar Electric Buy down Program

Energy Trust of Oregon's Solar Electric Buy-Down Program is available to customers of Pacific Power and PGE who install new photovoltaic (PV) systems on new or existing homes, commercial and community buildings, farms, and municipal facilities. Incentive amounts are as follows:


  • For systems owned by homeowners: $1/watt-DC (W) installed for Pacific Power customers, with a cap of $5,000 and $1.25/W-DC for PGE customers, with a $7,500 cap per site.
  • For systems owned by a third party: $1/W-DC installed for Pacific Power customers, with a cap of $5,000 and $1.25/W-DC installed for PGE customers, with a cap of $7,500.

Commercial, Industrial, Third Party

  • Pacific Power customers: $1/W-DC for systems up to 150 kilowatts (kW), with a $15,000 maximum incentive.
  • PGE customers: $1/W-DC for systems up to 750 kW, with a $75,000 maximum incentive.

Non-Profit, Government

  • Pacific Power customers: $1/W-DC for systems up to 150 kW, with a $15,000 maximum incentive.
  • PGE customers: $1/W-DC for systems up to 750 kW, with a $75,000 maximum incentive.

Energy Trust will provide referrals to contractors from their Trade Ally Network (self-installed systems will not qualify). The solar contractor selected advises the customer on installation options and best siting designs to obtain the maximum performance and satisfaction from the solar electric system. The contractor will provide a system quote that estimates the PV system annual performance, installation date, and the cost after Energy Trust incentive deductions. After Energy Trust approves the customer's PV system, the buy-down incentive will be paid to the solar contractor and deducted from the final cost. This incentive seems to apply in addition to the state tax credit through the Oregon Department of Energy of $2.10/W, up to $6,000 maximum as discussed above: So lets look at what sort of return we can get from installing solar panels for our home in Oregon:

Size of System (kw)  


Space required (square feet)


Price of system per watt  


Price of power (marginal cost high usage kwh's) $ per kwh  


Average daily kwh produced per 1 kw of solar  


Total average daily production  


Total Price (before incentives)  


Federal Tax Credit  


State Tax Credit  


State Rebate  


Actual out of pocket cost after incentives claimed  


Annual Power production  


Total Annual Energy savings based on net metering at 1:1  


State tax credit above $1500 claimable in future years   $4500 of value claimable over following years
Annual income from SREC's based on $100 per SREC  


Total Annual Return  


Annual Return on Investment  


Payback Time assuming no increase in power prices   2.8 years

As you can see from the example above Oregon residents can do very well from installing solar power panels for their home. Please note however that this example makes a number of assumptions that either may not be true for your circumstances or may not remain true in the future and so you should get quotes from local solar power companies or installers to get a more accurate picture of what your returns will look like from installing solar panels on your home.

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