Incentives and financing for solar

Walker homeWhat could be more natural than using the sun to generate clean energy for your home? Throughout Oregon, there’s plenty of sun to make installing solar panels a dependable route to energy independence and sustainability. With cash incentives and state and federal tax credits, you can offset up to 80 percent of your initial investment—making solar  more affordable than you may think. 

How can we help? For more information, questions or comments, call us at 1.866.368.7878 or contact our solar team.

There are two types of financial incentives that can help reduce the cost of installing a solar electric system on your home: cash incentives and tax credits. Together, these incentives can lower the cost of going solar by up to 80 percent.

Energy Trust incentives

Energy Trust offers cash incentives that reduce the upfront cost of installing a solar electric system. The incentive amount depends on the size of your system and your electric utility. To learn more, request a proposal from a solar trade ally or explore our solar planning tools.

I'm a customer of: Incentive/watt   Maximum incentive per home   
Pacific Power $0.70/watt
$7,000
Portland General Electric     $0.55/watt
$5,500

These incentives apply to solar electric systems owned by the homeowner. You can also lease or install a solar electric system using a power purchase agreement (see below).

Incentive offers are subject to funding availability and may change at any time. Check with your contractor.

Tax credits

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax you owe. Both the federal government and the state of Oregon offer income tax credits for homeowners who install solar energy systems. These tax credits are non-refundable, which means you must pay taxes in order to claim the credit(s).

Consult your tax professional to learn how tax credits and rules may apply to you. This information does not constitute tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties.

Oregon Residential Energy Tax Credit: This state tax credit provides up to $6,000 per residence for installing a solar electric system. The credit is applied over four years—up to $1,500 per year—and limited to 50 percent of the cost of the system. View the tax credit application and requirements.

Federal Energy Tax Credit: This federal tax credit covers 30 percent of the cost of a solar electric system installed before December 31, 2016. Subtract the value of an Energy Trust incentive from the cost prior to calculating the 30 percent credit. View requirements and information on how to claim the tax credit.

Leased or power purchase systems

If you choose to lease your solar electric system, or purchase just the electricity through a power purchase arrangement with a solar service provider, Energy Trust may pay the incentive to your solar service provider. You see the benefit as a more affordable lease or power purchase price. Depending on the arrangement with your solar service provider, you may still be eligible to claim certain tax credits. See the solar financing tab for more information. 

Note: Energy Trust provides technical assistance and financial incentives but does not develop, sell or install energy systems or equipment. This work is done by independent businesses that are solely responsible for the quality and performance of their installations.

To qualify for Energy Trust cash incentives for solar:

  • You must be an Oregon customer of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power.
    • If you are not a customer of PGE or Pacific Power, visit www.solaroregon.org to learn if your utility provides incentives for solar.
  • Systems must be installed by an approved Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor. Self-installed systems do not qualify.
  • Incentive applications must be approved by Energy Trust prior to installation (your contractor will submit your application on your behalf).
  • Systems must be grid-tied and net metered.
  • All system components must be new.
  • Additions to existing solar electric systems are allowed but may be subject to incentive caps. 
  • Projects participating in the Oregon feed-in tariff pilot (also referred to as the Solar Payment Option or Volumetric Incentive Rate program) are not eligible for Energy Trust incentives.

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

1. Get proposals from several Energy Trust solar trade ally contractors. 

2. Choose your system size using information from your proposals. 

3. Sign a contract with your installer. Your contractor will submit your Energy Trust incentive application on your behalf. Your Energy Trust cash incentive will be applied to the cost of your solar installation upfront—like a coupon—reducing the amount you pay your contractor.

4. Sign a net-metering agreement with your electric utility. Your contractor will provide the form.

5. Your contractor installs your system. Typically, it takes anywhere from two weeks to two months from the time you select your contractor to the completion of your installation.

6. Complete and submit the application for your Oregon Residential Energy Tax Credit. Your contractor will provide the form and assist you.

7. Claim your federal energy tax credit when you file your taxes. Complete the IRS Residential Energy Credit Form and submit it with your federal tax return.

8. Enjoy your clean, free, renewable energy for years to come!

Have questions? Call us at 1.866.368.7878 or email the solar team.

Your contractor will work with you to complete the proper form for your Energy Trust cash incentive. They will also provide assistance with completing your utility net-metering agreement and state energy tax credit application.

Have questions? Call us at 1.866.368.7878 or email the solar team.

Energy Trust offers helpful resources for installing a solar electric system at your home. Here are some great places to start:

Use our solar planning tools to explore how much a solar electric system might cost.

Read important tips for choosing a qualified solar contractor and comparing contractor bids.

Find out what net metering is and how it benefits
system owners.

Attend a free solar workshop in your community.

 

More Resources

Solar water heating systems

Other organizations

Fact sheets

Tax credits

Tools and other resources

Weighing your solar financing options

There are several financing options available to help make installing solar electric systems more affordable. The three primary ways customers pay for a solar installations are with cash, a loan or a lease or power purchase agreement.

Cash

With a cash purchase, you receive a proposal for the project and pay the contractor to complete the installation. If you qualify for any incentives or promotions, they reduce your upfront costs. You own the system from day one and benefit from significantly reduced utility costs for the life of the system.

Loan

Many homeowners use a loan to pay for some or all of their solar project. The loan could come from your existing bank, a financial institution that offers special loans for solar projects, your solar contractor or even from the equipment manufacturer. Loans that are secured with equity from your home or the solar equipment itself usually have the lowest interest rates, though unsecured loans are also available. Some lenders will allow you to make lump sum payments on your loan principal when you receive your tax credits. With a loan, you benefit from significantly reduced utility costs and own the system outright at the end of the loan term.

This list of regional lenders for home solar projects may be helpful as you consider your options. All the lenders listed are independent financial institutions, and Energy Trust does not make or influence lending decisions. We recommend exploring multiple financing options to find the solution that best fits your needs and budget.

Lease or Power Purchase Agreement

Another popular option is to install a solar system using a lease or power purchase agreement, PPA. You pay little or nothing to have a solar electric system installed on your roof by a solar service provider. In exchange, you make a fixed-term lease payment or purchase the electricity produced by the system on a monthly basis for the duration of the agreement, usually 20 years in Oregon. The solar service provider pays for the equipment, installation and most necessary maintenance on the system.

The rate you pay for the solar electricity may be less than your current electricity rate. You benefit from slightly reduced utility costs (if your solar PPA rate is less than you utility rate) for the duration of the agreement. At the end of the term, you have the option to remove the system, renew the agreement or purchase the system.

If you choose to lease your solar electric system or buy the electricity through a power purchase arrangement with a solar service provider, Energy Trust incentives for the system will go directly to the solar service provider—not the homeowner. You receive the benefit of the incentive indirectly through a lower lease or power purchase price. Depending on the arrangement with your solar service provider, you may still be eligible to claim certain tax credits.

Read this guide to solar leases, loans and PPAs

Third-party solar service providers: Please read and follow this information to determine whether your offer meets Energy Trust requirements and is eligible to receive cash incentives. Note that the incentives for third-party owned systems may be different than those for customer-owned systems.