Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Instead of writing energy-consumption checks, some Oregon homeowners and businesses with solar panels will soon be collecting them. The Oregonian reports that a new pilot program is hoping to provide utility customers who install solar panels—after the July 1 start-date—with a long-term solution in covering installation costs. Managed by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the program will pay utility customers premium rates for the solar energy they generate for 15 years. The incentive rates will be determined by the size of the solar panel system—the larger the system, the better the rate—and location—the sunnier the region, the lower the rate. Not to be confused with state tax credits and Energy Trust of Oregon incentives, this program will be funded entirely by the PUC’s electric bills—which will see an increase to meet the demands of the program. Participants in the pilot can still apply for the 30 percent federal tax credit, but will not be eligible for the state tax and cash incentive. The program is limited to 25 megawatts—enough to power about 2500 homes—and will be evaluated after four years for effectiveness and use.