Investing in a solar energy system in Oregon will significantly decrease your home energy expenses, carbon footprint, and dependence on fossil fuels. There are several incentives accessible to Oregon homeowners that can dramatically reduce the total system cost and the time it takes for the solar panels to pay for themselves in electricity bill savings.
From Portland to Salem, Newberg, Bend, and beyond, taking advantage of Oregon solar energy incentives is crucial to maximize the benefits of installing a solar panel system. Let’s examine the tax credits, Oregon solar rebates, and other solar incentive programs, so you maximize your solar energy savings and save thousands of dollars.
Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) offers rebates for residential solar energy systems. As of August 2023, Oregon homeowners can receive a solar rebate of up to $5,000 for a solar system and $2,500 for solar batteries. These excellent incentives significantly reduce the total cost of your rooftop solar system and the payback period.
- Low to moderate-income households are eligible for $1.80 per watt of installed solar energy capacity. The ODOE caps the solar rebate at 60% of the net project cost or $5,000, whichever is less.
- Households that don’t qualify as low to moderate-income and are eligible for a utility incentive can receive a rebate of $0.20 per watt of installed capacity. The solar incentive cannot exceed 40% of the net system cost or $5,000, whichever is less.
- Households that don’t qualify as low to moderate-income and are not eligible for an electric utility incentive can receive $0.50 per watt of installed solar electric capacity. The rebate cannot exceed 40% of the net system cost or $5,000, whichever is less.
- It’s also possible to qualify for an additional $2,5000 rebate when adding a solar energy storage system.
Energy Trust of Oregon
This solar energy incentive is available for many Oregon homeowners, but it depends on their electric utility company. Homeowners with Portland General Electric or Pacific Power can receive a $400 rebate for a home solar system. In addition, these households can receive $250 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar battery capacity, up to $3,000.
Net energy metering in Oregon
When you install solar panels on your home, there will be times it generates more power than your home needs. Net metering, also known as net energy billing, allows Oregon homeowners with solar energy systems to receive credit for the excess renewable energy they supply to the electric grid.
This excess solar electricity is fed to the utility grid, and you get credits on your electricity bills each month. PacifiCorp, Portland General Electric, Central Lincoln PUD, Tillamook PUD, and many other utility companies in Oregon offer this popular solar incentive.
However, submitting interconnection paperwork to your utility company to qualify for net metering programs is essential. Smart Solar Energy completes this paperwork on our customers’ behalf to simplify the process of going solar. Our solar system designers are also diligent about designing a solar system that maximizes your energy bill savings without oversizing your solar system, so you get the most value from your solar energy investment.
Net metering programs in Oregon
Utility companies are required by law to offer net metering programs to their customers with photovoltaic solar systems. Below is information on some of Oregon’s most popular net metering programs.
This electric utility provides power for a couple million Oregonians around Portland and beyond. PGE uses bidirectional electric meters to measure the solar energy you feed to the grid so that you can receive renewable energy credits on your electric bills.
EWEB serves the communities of Eugene, Oregon, and parts of east Springfield and the McKenzie River valley. To qualify for net metering with EWEB, solar PV systems must not exceed 25 kW.
This company is known as Pacific Power in Oregon and is an investor-owned utility company. PacifiCorp’s service area includes Grants Pass, Medford, Klamath Falls, Hood River, and Lincoln City. Pacific Power has net metering programs that compensate solar system owners for the surplus solar power they feed to the grid.
This electric cooperative serves parts of Salem and Keizer, Oregon. Salem Electric offers a net metering program for solar systems that are 25 kW or less. In addition, Salem Electric customers are eligible for $300 for every kW of solar capacity. The Smart Solar Energy team can help you qualify for net metering.
Renters and homeowners that reside in Ashland, Oregon, are eligible for net metering programs through this electric utility. The solar system must be at least 2.5 kilowatts (kW) and properly permitted through the city.
This member-owned electric cooperative serves residents and businesses in central Oregon, including Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, and Sisters, Oregon. Its electric service area includes communities in Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jefferson, Linn, Lake, and Wasco counties. To enter a net metering agreement with CEC, customers must have a solar system no larger than 25 kW.
Other net metering programs in Oregon
In addition to the programs mentioned above, the following utilities and electric cooperatives also offer net metering programs for Oregonians:
- City of Bandon
- Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative
- Canby Utility Board
- City of Cascade Locks
- Central Lincoln PUD
- Clatskanie Peoples Utility District
- Clearwater Power Company
- Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative
- Columbia River Peoples Utility District
- Columbia Power Coop Association
- Columbia Rural Electric Association
- Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative
- Consumers Power
- Douglas Electric Cooperative
- City of Drain
- Emerald People’s Utility District
- City of Forest Grove
- City of Hermiston
- Hood River Electric Cooperative
- Lane Electric Cooperative
- Harney Electric Cooperative
- City of McMinnville
- Midstate Electric Cooperative
- City of Milton-Freewater
- City of Monmouth
- Northern Wasco County PUD
- Oregon Trail El Cons Cooperative
- City of Springfield
- Surprise Valley Electrification Corporation
- Tillamook Peoples Utility District
- Umatilla Electric Cooperative Association
- Wasco Electric Cooperative
- West Oregon Electric Cooperative
Federal solar tax credit
The U.S. government provides a 30% solar tax credit to individuals and families that install residential solar energy systems on their primary or secondary homes. This solar incentive is accessible nationwide and is not restricted solely to PV systems in Oregon. Due to the climate bill, the value of the solar tax credit has recently increased, resulting in greater savings for solar panel installations.
How to calculate the value of your solar tax credit
You can determine the solar tax credit by multiplying the total cost of your solar power system by 30%. All your solar equipment, including the PV panels, solar inverter, mounting hardware, labor, permitting fees, and even solar batteries, are included in this total.
Also, If you need an electric panel upgrade for a home solar system, the labor and materials can qualify for the solar tax credit. But, if you need a new roof before installing solar panels, the cost of the new roof is not included when calculating the solar energy tax credit.
Let’s say your new solar panel system’s pre-incentive cost is $19,000.
Value of the solar tax credit is $19,000 X 30% = $5,700
$19,000 – $5,700 = Net Cost of $13,300
A tax credit results in a direct reduction in federal income taxes, so it is more valuable for taxpayers than a tax deduction. For instance, a $5,700 tax credit reduces your federal income taxes by $5,700.
The Smart Solar Energy team can provide you with a complimentary solar audit of your property with accurate pricing information. We can also help calculate the value of the federal tax credit available for your solar panel system if you qualify.
Qualifying for the solar tax credit
We recommend that our Oregon solar customers determine if they qualify for the solar tax credit before installing the rooftop solar system, and there are a few things to keep in mind.
You must have a tax liability with the IRS to qualify. So, we recommend consulting a tax specialist to ensure your eligibility. Also, remember that the tax credit’s financial benefits will only become apparent when you file your taxes. If you set up a solar panel system in 2023, you will see the benefits in April 2024, when you file your 2023 federal income taxes.
The solar tax credit isn’t refundable. However, if you are unable to apply the full tax credit in a single year, you can carry it forward for subsequent tax years, provided that the solar tax remains in effect.
Also, owning your solar system is a requirement for qualifying, so leasing solar panels disqualifies you. Therefore, Oregon households with solar leases, power purchase agreements (PPA), or that have a subscription to a community solar farm cannot claim the tax credit.
To apply for the federal solar investment tax credit, it’s necessary to complete IRS form 5695 for Residential Energy Credits and include it with your federal tax return for the year you installed your solar system. The U.S. Department of Energy has a homeowner’s guide about the federal solar tax credit and how to meet the necessary requirements.
Frequently asked questions about solar incentives in Oregon
Let’s explore some of the questions that solar shoppers have about Oregon solar energy incentives.
Why does Oregon offer incentives to encourage solar energy installations?
The State of Oregon has targets to reduce carbon emissions through the use of renewable energy. The Oregon Legislature passed the Clean Energy Targets bill (HB 2021) in 2021, which requires certain Oregon electricity providers to cut their greenhouse gas emissions from generating electricity.
The bill set targets for Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, and Electricity Service Suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity generation by:
- 80 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2030
- 100 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2040
Thus, increasing the use of solar power and other renewable energy sources helps the state meet these goals while also reducing air pollution. In addition, transitioning to clean energy sources can also reduce home energy bills for Oregonians, making it a more affordable place to live.
Is it difficult to qualify for net metering in Oregon?
Enrolling in net metering programs with PGE, EWEB, CEC, Salem Electric, and other programs requires completing interconnection paperwork. Smart Solar Energy believes in providing excellent customer service and completes this paperwork on our customers’ behalf. Our solar designers also understand the net energy billing requirements, so getting approved for net metering is a seamless process.
Taking advantage of solar incentives in Oregon
Numerous solar power incentives for homeowners can significantly reduce the total cost of going solar. As a result, it means your system will pay for itself more quickly in energy bill savings and boost the return on investment of the solar array. These programs make installing solar panels more affordable for homeowners, expanding access to clean energy in Oregon.
At Smart Solar Energy, we are dedicated to making it easy for our customers to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and lower their utility bills with renewable energy. So, we help educate our customers on how to qualify for Oregon solar incentive programs and even can complete needed paperwork when possible.
How much can you save with a home solar energy system? Contact Smart Solar Energy today to find out!