In April 2019, Oregon’s Department of Energy (ODE) launched U.S. Power Squad, an initiative designed to reduce energy costs for Oregonians. Dubbed as the state’s “power squad,” this group of workers travels to residential and commercial properties to manually turn on and off power loads in a bid to save customers money. The squad is made up of people from the energy sector, such as electric utilities and power companies, along with employees from the public sector, including local governments and nonprofit organizations.
How Does the U.S. Power Squad Work?
In order to qualify for a solar rebate through U.S. Power Squad, residents need to install solar panels on their property. When the electricity generated by the panels is connected to the grid, the owner of the property will receive an annual credit on their electricity bill. The credit is determined based on how much electricity is generated during the year and can vary from $0 to $5,000 per year.
As of June 2020, there are six residential solar rebate programs available through the ODE. According to Andrea Ball, an energy economist at NW Energy, these programs cover almost all of the cost of a residential solar project, including the cost of the panels, labor to install them, and the purchase of equipment needed to maintain the system.
The state of Oregon currently offers these solar rebate programs:
- Sunset Renewable Energy Credit (SRE) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Community Renewable Energy Credit (CRE) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Energy Efficiency Mortage Credit (EEMC) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Small Renewable Energy Systems Credit (SRES) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Renewable Energy Subvention Program (RES) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Energy Star Portfolio Reduction Program (ENFORM) – $0 to $5,000 per year
- Green Power Partnership Program (GPP) – $0 to $5,000 per year
Commercial solar projects also qualify for a PENROSE Credit that is offered through the ODE. A PENROSE Credit provides businesses with tax credits equal to 30% of the cost of their solar installations.
Who Benefits From These Rebates?
To qualify for a rebate through the ODE, residential and commercial properties must subscribe to a power supply plan that includes an energy-saving service, such as switching to energy-efficient appliances or installing a solar-powered device. If subscribers meet those requirements, then the installation of solar panels is certain to help reduce their energy bills and the cost of living in Oregon.
According to Ball, this is exactly what happened in Texas, where the cost of electricity is higher than the national average, and where residential solar installations help reduce customers’ energy bills by about 15%.
And there’s more! With electricity prices on the rise, more and more Oregonians are seeing the benefits that solar panels have to offer. Not only do they help reduce energy costs, but they also generate revenue through selling excess power back to the grid. In some cases, homeowners have seen their power bills decrease by 75% after installing a solar system.
The bottom line is that homeowners, businesses, and the community at large all benefit when solar power is used.
How Do I Get My Own Solar Rebate?
Apply For Credits
In order to get your own solar rebate through the ODE, you must first apply for the credit. This involves submitting an application, along with a $5 application fee, and completing several forms. The forms can be found on the ODE’s website or through the email link on the website. Once the application is submitted, you will receive a notification saying that your application has been received.
The next step is to receive approval for your project. To do this, you will need to set up a meeting with one of the ODE’s energy counselors. During this meeting, the energy counselor will review your application and, if you qualify, they will provide you with an approval/denial letter. If you are approved, you will be informed that your system has been approved and that you will receive a formal acceptance letter in the mail. This letter provides you with the important information needed to begin constructing your system.
From there, you will need to choose a contractor to help you install the system. You can either hire a reputable contractor or do it yourself, although the latter option is more labor-intensive. With prices of labor decreasing as the economy moves towards full recovery, more and more homeowners are choosing to do it themselves.
Once you have an approved solar system, you can apply for state-funded loan programs that provide discounted or no-interest loans for residential and commercial property owners who want to install a solar system.
There are several different state loan programs available through the ODE. These loans help homeowners and businesses fund the cost of their solar installation. In some cases, the loans are offered at zero interest for as long as the property owner maintains a certain energy-saving level.
These loans provide important debt relief for homeowners and businesses who might otherwise find it difficult to obtain a loan for a variety of reasons, including a poor credit history and lack of a collateral source. The availability of these loans has helped drive the solar economy forward and has reduced the cost of living for many Oregonians.
What Are The Requirements For These Loans?
In order to be eligible for a state-funded residential or commercial solar loan, you must satisfy several requirements. First, you must be an owner of the property where the system will be installed. In addition, you must either reside in the property or have the authority to bind the property owner to the terms of a lease. If you meet these requirements, then the State of Oregon will work with you to provide you with the financing you need to install a solar system.
These requirements ensure that owners who are benefiting from the loan are actually placing a value on saving energy and lowering their energy bills. If you want to learn more, you can contact the ODE’s financial counselor, who can help you qualify for a loan.
How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar?
The Cost Of Installation
The cost of installation varies based on several factors, including what you want installed (residential/commercial), how many systems you want installed, and where you want the system to be installed (roof/ground-mounted).
If you’re just looking to lower your energy bills, then the cost of installation is relatively low. You can find systems designed to work with any home or business connection and there are affordable installation packages available that can get you up and running within a few days.
Raising a roof and mounting panels on it usually requires a professional contractor and takes a few days to a week to complete. The cost of labor is usually covered by the installer, but, in some cases, you might need to cover the cost of materials. This is why, for the most part, roof-mounted systems are more expensive to install than ground-mounted systems.
What Types Of Equipment Do I Need To Instal Solar?
The Necessary Equipment
In addition to installation, you’ll also need to purchase several different items of equipment to make your solar system operational. These items include a solar inverter (or converter), which changes the direct current from the solar panel to alternating current that your home appliances can use; a solar battery, which stores the electricity generated by the panel system; a charge controller, which regulates the flow of electricity from the solar battery and prevents overcharging; various sensors (such as current sensors and voltage/power sensors), which measure the output of the system and allow you to track and monitor its performance; and an alarm system, which notifies you if any of the sensors detect something abnormal (an overheating battery, for example).
These are just the bare necessities. You will also need to purchase a few different tools to ensure the installation goes smoothly.