Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Direction

1. What is self-direction; who is eligible to self-direct?

Oregon law requires customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to pay a three percent public purpose charge. Under its agreement with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, Energy Trust receives and invests some of the funds generated by the public purpose charge to support energy-efficiency projects and assist with the above market costs of new renewable resources. Find out more information about Energy Trust.

Although the payment of the public purpose charge is generally mandatory, certain large electricity consumers (over 1 average megawatt or 8,760,000 kilowatt hours a year) may be eligible to “self-direct” portions of their public purpose charge payments to fund Oregon Department of Energy-certified expenditures at their own facilities. Self-direction is optional, and over time, an entity may change its self-direct status. For more information about self-direction, see Oregon Department of Energy’s website.


2. If I am currently using self-direction credits on my utility bill, can I receive Energy Trust program services and incentives?

Yes, subject to certain limitations and requirements. Whether (and when) you choose to self-direct affects the services and incentives you will be eligible to receive from Energy Trust.


3. Where can I find a copy of Energy Trust's Policy on Self-Direction?

A complete copy of Energy Trust's Policy on Self-Direction is available for your review. If you are currently self-directing or think you are eligible to self-direct and might decide to do so in the future, you are advised to read this policy prior to participating in any Energy Trust program.


4. Can I receive self-direction credits and Energy Trust incentive funding for the exact same measure?

No. You are not allowed to receive Energy Trust incentive funds for any project (i.e., measure) for which self-direction credit is also claimed.


5. If I self-direct, what are my options for participation in Energy Trust's programs?

As long as you are not planning to claim self-direction credit for the following measures, a self-director may receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive amount offered by Energy Trust for the following:

  1. Unitary HVAC replacement
  2. Measures determined by Energy Trust to have modest costs ($3,000 or less per project) or savings, and where application of the self-direct policy's requirements would unreasonably interfere with our efforts to encourage participation in one of our programs (for example, the pre-rinse restaurant sprayer)
  3. For all other measures, you can choose to either:
    • Stop using* self-direction credits on your utility bill for a period of 36 months at the same Oregon Department of Energy-certified site where you perform an Energy Trust-funded measure **, in which case you will be eligible to receive the full (100%) standard Energy Trust incentive amount for your measure, OR
    • Continue to use self-direction credits and receive only 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive

* Energy Trust's policy does not ask you to stop accumulating self-direction credits for any other energy efficiency or new renewable resource projects you may perform during the 36-month period as long as you do not use them to reduce your public purpose charges during this period. See response to question 6 below.

** For energy efficiency projects, Energy Trust calculates the 36-month time period from the date that Energy Trust pays the incentive funds. For new renewable resource projects, Energy Trust calculates the 36-month time period from the project's commercial operation date.


6. What happens to my existing self-direction credits if I stop using them for 36 months?

It is our understanding that Oregon Department of Energy lets you "bank" existing credits and you can resume using them following the 36-month time period; however, we advise you to discuss this issue and verify with Oregon Department of Energy directly.


7. Does the policy apply to new building construction?

Yes, new building construction projects that receive Energy Trust incentive funding are subject to the self-direction policy.


8. Does the policy apply to technical analysis and feasibility studies funded by Energy Trust?

Yes, technical analysis studies or feasibility studies that receive Energy Trust incentive funding are subject to the self-direction policy.


9. What if I self-direct the renewable portion of my public purpose charge at my site, but I do not self-direct the conservation portion?

You would be eligible to receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for an energy efficiency project at that site, but eligible to receive only 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for a new renewable energy project at that site (unless you agree to cease self-directing the renewable portion for a period of 36 months from the commercial operation date - see response to question 5 above).


10. What if I self-direct the conservation portion of my public purpose charge at my site, but I do not self-direct the renewable portion?

You would be eligible to receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for a new renewable energy project at that site, but only eligible to receive 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for an energy efficiency project at that site (unless you agree to cease self-directing the conservation portion for a period of 36 months from the date of Energy Trust's incentive payment - see response to question 5 above).


11. Are the renewable energy portion and the conservation portion of the public purpose charge considered separately at the same site?

Yes. See responses to questions 9 and 10 above.


12. What happens if I take Energy Trust's funds and agree to stop using self-direction credits for 36 months but then, during that 36-month time period, I decide that I want to start using my credits again?

You will be required to repay a pro-rated amount of the Energy Trust incentive funding up to a maximum of 50% of the amount you received. Energy Trust uses the following formula to calculate repayment:

  • Refund Amount = 0.5 x A x B
  • A = total amount of incentives paid
  • B = 36 months minus the number of months elapsed since measure installation or completion*, divided by 36

* For energy efficiency projects, Energy Trust calculates the completion date as the date that Energy Trust pays the incentive check. For new renewable resource projects, Energy Trust calculates the completion date as the project's commercial operation date.


13. How long will I have to repay the Energy Trust funds?

Energy Trust will negotiate a payment schedule for the amount of the incentive funds repayment with you; however, the payment must be complete within two years of the date you begin using self-direct credits at the site.


14. Can Energy Trust waive the repayment requirement for my project?

Energy Trust staff has the discretion to waive the repayment obligation only for projects involving $3,000 or less in incentive funds.