Solar Electric

A solar electric system is the most visible way to demonstrate your commitment to curbing global warming. It can also lower your energy costs. Energy Trust offers cash incentives that can be combined with federal tax credits, as well as accelerated depreciation, to make solar energy more affordable. Investing in solar is a smart decision—once the initial project fixed costs are recuperated the system will continue generating free clean energy, delivering return on your investment for decades to come.

Energy Trust Cash Incentives

Solar electric incentives vary based on electric utility.

  Incentive Project Maximum
PGE 0-25 kW: $1.30/watt
26-250 kW: $1.30-$0.72/watt*
Pacific Power 0-35kW: $0.90/watt
36-200 kW: $0.90-$0.40/watt*

*non-linear incentive rate calculation, see the incentive estimator below.

Estimate the incentive for a particular system size.

Solar electric incentives are limited and are subject to change. These incentive rates apply to business, public, nonprofit, industry and agriculture customers and to systems owned by a third-party entity offering a lease or power purchase agreement to a non-residential utility customer. See the Third Party Ownership tab for more information.

Annual Customer Maximum: To ensure that as many customers as possible can benefit from the incentives, Energy Trust limits how much solar electric incentive funding a single customer (or system host in the case of third-party systems) may apply for in a single calendar year. These limits are applied by utility and are currently $500,000 for business customers of PGE and $80,000 for business customers of Pacific Power.

For all solar electric systems receiving Energy Trust incentives, the system owner will own the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) during the first five years of operation. Energy Trust will own RECs during years six through twenty.

Solar on New Commercial Construction

If you are considering solar for a new commercial building that is in the design phase, Energy Trust can provide assistance with preliminary scoping and design assistance. Take a look at our Early Solar Assistance pages for more information.

Tax Credits, Grants and Loan Guarantees

Federal tax credits, grants, and loan guarantees can play an important role in making solar projects financially viable.

  • Federal: tax credit equal to 30 percent of eligible project cost, plus 5-year accelerated depreciation (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System)

Consult your tax professional to learn how tax credits and rules apply to your project. This information does not constitute tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties. Read more about these opportunities.

 Estimate the financial benefits a solar system may provide.

Another option: Oregon’s solar incentive pilot (feed-in tariff)

The Oregon legislature passed a law in 2009 to test out a new solar incentive option that is commonly referred to as the feed-in tariff. This incentive was available from 2011 through 2014 to Oregon customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and Idaho Power. The incentive has concluded its final scheduled offering of incentives. There will be a very limited final offer of funding in May of 2015.  
A feed-in tariff is an incentive program in which the electric utility pays the owner of a solar electric system a fixed premium rate for every renewable kilowatt-hour generated over a period of time. Those payments allow the owner to recoup their investment over time. This model has been used successfully in Germany.

A solar electric system that receives a feed-in tariff incentive does not qualify for an Energy Trust incentive or Oregon Residential Energy Tax Credit. For more information about the feed-in tariff, contact your utility.

Portland General Electric Solar Payment Option
Pacific Power Oregon Solar Incentive Program

  • You must be an Oregon customer of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power.
  • Solar electric systems must be grid-tied.
  • Systems must be installed by an approved Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor.
  • Incentive applications must be pre-approved by Energy Trust prior to installation.
  • All system components must be new.
  • Large commercial electricity users who “self-direct” the renewable energy portion of their public purpose charge may receive a reduced incentive. Learn more about self-direction in our Self-direction FAQ.

Incentives are not intended to influence consumer decisions on fuel sources.

A solar system is a major investment. Like any investment, going solar will require research, planning and a financial commitment. The steps below will get you started on the path to generating your own clean energy.

  1. Consider your budget, electricity costs, roof life, roof area and sun exposure.
  2. Get bids from several solar trade ally contractors.
  3. Find project financing, if necessary. GreenStreet Lending offers preferred rates, no closing costs and no loan fees.
  4. Select a contractor.
  5. Apply for your Energy Trust incentive before starting your project. Your contractor will provide the form and assist you.
  6. Sign a net-metering agreement with your electric utility if system is net-metered. Your contractor will help you obtain the form.
  7. Wait as your contractor installs your system.
  8. After Energy Trust verifies the installation, receive your incentive check from Energy Trust.
  9. Claim your federal tax credit, if applicable.
    • Submit the IRS Business Energy Investment Tax Credit Form 3468 with your federal tax return.

All required forms will be supplied by your contractor. You can preview the forms below:

Direct Ownership (site owner owns the system)

  • Energy Trust Incentive Application (Form 220C)

Third-Party Ownership (site owner hosts a system owned by a third party)

  • Energy Trust Incentive Application (Form 220T)

Have questions? Call us at 1.866.368.7878.

You may have the option to contract with a third-party system owner to install, own and operate a solar electric system on your property. You would likely agree to purchase the electricity generated by the system from the third party. Typically the third-party company you choose to work with will provide a turn-key installation. The amount of initial cost, if any, to your organization depends on the investment and ownership model offered by the third party. The financial incentives will be claimed by the third-party owner of the system. Third-party ownership FAQ.

To participate:

  1. Select a third-party company and sign an agreement with them.
  2. Sign an Energy Trust incentive application (Form 220T) with the third-party system owner and submit to Energy Trust.
  3. After Energy Trust pre-approves your application, the third party oversees installation of the system.
  4. After the installation passes code and Energy Trust verification, Energy Trust pays the incentive amount to the third-party owner or its designated payee.
  5. The third-party owner will claim all other applicable incentives, including any federal tax credits.