Pay-for-production solar incentive proving viable in Oregon
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A new report includes highlights from the two-year-old incentive for solar power known in Oregon as the feed-in tariff.
A two-year report on the pilot program launched in 2010 to create a solar incentive where utilities pay panel owners for the power they generate indicates that the program is viable and coexists well with other available incentives for homeowners and businesses looking to go solar.
The "volumetric incentive rates" program — known colloquially at a feed-in tariff though program differences prevent it from technically being one — was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 and is available on a limited basis to customers of Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp (which does utility business as Pacific Power) and Idaho Power.
|Oregon's solar feed-in pilot results >>|
The two-year report produced by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission for the Legislature (available here) found that the pay-for-production incentive program is on track to install 25 megawatts of solar energy in the region by March 2015.
Currently the program requires participating utilities to pay around 30 or 40 cents per kilowatt hour of solar energy generated by registered solar arrays, depending on the solar project's size.
Jon Crider, senior power cost analyst for the PUC and author of the report, said the pay-for-production incentive offers an alternative to the combination of tax breaks and Energy Trust of Oregon incentives available for solar installation.
"There's a lot of pent up demand for solar," Crider said. "These are slightly different incentive programs and one or the other will make sense depending on the project."
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