Oregon Solar News

It's Budget Writing Time in the State Capitol

With less than eight weeks left in Oregon’s legislative session, the legislature passed another significant benchmark on Tuesday: The State Economist presented May’s quarterly economic forecast to state legislators. The forecast provides the final estimate of revenue which legislators may allocate as they craft the next state budget.

What does that have to do with OSEIA’s legislative priorities? Well, OSEIA’s top priority is extending the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC). RETC brings numerous benefits to Oregon households and the solar energy and energy efficiency industries. But it also costs the states roughly $15 million dollars per year. With such a large budget deficit to fill, any state program that costs money is potentially on the chopping block.

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National SEIA to Host Western States Solar Lobby Day in Washington, DC

SEIA, the national solar trade association, is organizing a lobby day for solar companies based in and working in the western United States - Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico – in Washington, DC on June 22, 2017.

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Policy Update- Community Solar

Community solar offers exciting possibilities to help consumers who can’t put solar on their roof still access the benefits of solar by participating in a larger project and getting a portion of the energy from that project credited to their bill.

The Oregon legislature adopted a community solar policy in February 2016. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) was charged with writing rules for the policy. The PUC has held a series of workshops starting in the second half of 2016 and continuing into 2017 as part of an informal process for the community solar rulemaking docket (AR 603). The community solar statute requires that rules for the program be in place by July 1, 2017.

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My Solar Story - Jeni Hall

I am the daughter of a career Marine and grew up on military bases around the country. What I took away from seeing my father put on a uniform each morning was a sense of service and the importance of working for something larger than myself. Driving across the country every other summer to a new duty station impressed on me that nothing is static and how important it is to be flexible.

My love for engineering can be directly linked to a multicolored set of Lego bricks. Why I chose to go into Aerospace engineering is not as clear. I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where the motto is “Learn by Doing” and it wasn’t until much later that I realized not all engineers had the benefit of such a hands-on education....In 2008, I moved to Oregon to be closer to my family and to start a career in the solar industry. An engineering degree - even one with a focus on hands-on learning - doesn't make up for a lack of construction experience. So I started at the bottom to learn the trade.

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Policy Update - 4.27.17

Between OSEIA’s priority bills moving and a successful lobby day, it's been a good month for solar in Oregon's capitol but the outcome is still uncertain.

First, all three of OSEIA’s priority bills passed their first legislative hurdle by passing out of the House Energy & Environment Committee. Second, OSEIA hosted a successful and productive Solar Lobby Day last Monday in the capitol. OSEIA is beyond grateful to the 83 members and supporters who attended. We met with 67 legislators or their staff, that’s 75% of the 90-person legislature. Third, OSEIA policy staff and ten board members met with Governor Brown to discuss OSEIA’s solar priorities and solar’s role in our future. Nevertheless, we’ve a lot of work ahead to secure OSEIA’s priorities, and given the budget context, the outcome, particularly on RETC, is far from certain.

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Thriving Company Culture through the eyes of a Field Manager

The intention of this series is to give you, as a reader, a sense of where and how culture is thriving in the solar industry, and how you might begin to strengthen company culture in your own company or place of business. I conducted this interview with Ry Heller, Field Manager at True South Solar which currently employs 18 solar team members with 2 solar install teams.

Tamara: What does a thriving culture mean to you?

Ry: I think about it along the lines of my community here in Ashland. Our company is a little thriving culture within that. We have like-minded visions, shared goals, and our job is environmental activism. Our little thriving culture is more than just a job where you show up and make money. It’s a little community within the bigger community of people who want to make a difference, and enjoy showing up to work everyday to make that difference. We’re not just coworkers, but we’re all getting to know each other better, doing things outside of work sometimes, providing a very friendly community of support for one another...

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Solar Contractor Day Q&A - May 9th

OSEIA caught up with Jeni Hall, Sr. Project Manager to ask her a few questions about this year’s Solar Contractor Day sponsored by Energy Trust of Oregon on Tuesday May 9th.

What is Solar Contractor Day?

A whole day of training on Tuesday May 9th designed just for Oregon solar contractors brought to you by Energy Trust of Oregon. Talking with solar trade allies we hear that many contractors are interested in growing their businesses, increasing their profits, and decreasing costs. We contracted with national industry experts on financial management, business operations, and installation best practices to help by providing Oregon solar contractors the tools needed to meet their goals.

Is there something different about Solar Contractor Day this year?

Yes! This year we have something for the whole team by offering two educational tracks. Focus on either business development or technical skills...

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Policy Update- 4.20.17

Solar Makes its Mark on Legislature

OSEIA is beyond grateful to its members and supporters who attended Monday's Solar Lobby Day in Oregon's capitol. The importance of that event is difficult to overstate. With all three of OSEIA’s priority bills out of their first committee last week, this was our first chance to carry the message of RETC’s importance to a broader range of legislators.

By any measure, lobby day was successful. All told we met with 67 legislators or their staff. That’s 75% of the 90-person legislature. At least 83 solar pros and supporters attended...

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Policy Update- 4.13.17

Solar bills pass first hurdle unanimously
It's been a great week for solar in Oregon's capitol! On Monday the House Environment and Energy Committee unanimously passed OSEIA's top priority bill, HB 2681, which would extend the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) for six more years.

And yesterday, following a last minute vote count dash, the same committee passed HB 3227, the bill to create a taxpayer incentive for community solar subscribers. Huge thanks to Clean Energy Collective's Charlie Coggeshall for joining us on short notice to testify.

All three of OSEIA's priority bills are out of their first committee (meaning they've meet the first legislative deadline) with unanimous, bipartisan support. There have been no "no" votes on solar yet this year. (The third bill is HB 2760, the property tax exemption for solar and other net-metered alternative energy devices, got out of its first committee a couple of weeks ago).

That's a great foundation for the next step in the legislative process: winning the money to fund these programs. The legislature is grappling with a $1.6 billion budget deficit for funding state programs, so any program that costs money is potentially on the chopping block.

That's why Monday's Solar Lobby Day is crucial, and the timing is perfect. With all our bills out of committee, now is the time for solar supporters to come to the capitol and help us carry the message of solar's benefit to a broader group of legislators. We have fifty lobby meetings scheduled, including with all members of the next committees our bills will face. This is an opportunity for you to make a big difference.

Please register for Solar Lobby Day today is the registration deadline!

Policy Update- 4.6.17

The 2017 legislative session is well underway and the OSEIA legislative team is hard at work. We are pursuing the policy agenda developed by the membership and approved by the board. Here’s an update on what’s happening with the key bills taking up most of our time.

  • HB 2681 - Six-Year Extension of the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC): This bill had its first hearing on March 29.
  • HB 2760 - Property Tax Exemption for On-site Renewables: The bill moved from the House Energy and Environment Committee to the House Revenue Committee on April 4.
  • HB 3227 - Create a Tax Incentive for Community Solar Participants: The legislature created a community solar policy in 2016 that will give people who cannot put solar on their roofs the opportunity to participate in a solar project and see the benefits on their utility bill
  • SB 339 - Clarifying the Small-Scale Renewable Mandate in the Increased Renewable Energy Standard: When the legislature increased the Renewable Energy Standard for Oregon’s two largest private utilities, they included a mandate to include a portion of small-scale renewables (under 20 MW).
  • SB 979 - Renewable Energy Direct Access: Many large utility customers (Wal-mart, Microsoft, Facebook and the like) want to have access to increased renewable resources to be able to say that they are powered by renewable energy.
Key Deadlines Approaching:The session is about to hit key legislative deadlines for bills to get moved out of their originating committees. Most of the bills we are working on should meet those deadlines but it will be good to have the field cleared a bit of other bills that aren’t going anywhere. Sign up for Solar Lobby Day!
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PSCCU offers Solar Financing to Oregonians

At Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union (PSCCU) we’ve been serving the financial needs of our neighbors since 1934 with a variety of products and services. But one of the ways we’re different is we’re one of the few financial institutions offer energy-efficiency / solar loans. Our Energy-Smart Loans improve housing stock, lower energy usage AND put people to work. Our deposits go towards supporting the environment, sustainability and YOUR local economy. That’s how PSCCU practices community and cooperation. Our solar program (to date) has helped over 2,600 Washingtonians become solar citizens, created living wage jobs, and these solar projects have put nearly $75 million back into our local economy which in turn will generate 6,100 Megawatts of electricity over their lifetime! We’re looking forward to adding Oregon solar projects to those numbers.

Oregon residents can join PSCCU and take advantage of our Energy-Smart loan program simply by becoming a member of the NW Energy Coalition (NWEC). More information about the Coalition and membership can be found on their website.

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Oregon Solar Review - March 2017

Click here to read March 2017 Oregon Solar Review

First Hearings Held for RETC and Property Tax Exemption Extension

We’ve been talking about extending the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) and the property tax exemption for a long time. But yesterday (Wednesday, March 29) we had the first hearing to start the process.

For an hour and a half, solar installers, energy efficiency advocates, labor representatives and economic development workers told the members of the Oregon House Energy and Environment Committee about the benefits of the RETC and the property tax exemption (but mostly RETC) – for consumers, for businesses and for Oregon.

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New 1.02 MW Project in Portland City Limits

In mid-March, Imagine Energy at last completed one of the largest solar installations Portland has yet seen: 1.02 MW on the Montgomery Park commercial complex. The 1920 building, formerly a Montgomery Ward mail-order catalog warehouse, was acquired in the 1980’s and fully renovated into what is now the second largest office building in Oregon. Since then its owner, Bill Naito Co., has transformed the historic building through a host of upgrades and retrofits into one of the most sustainable commercial buildings in the United States. Its latest addition, the 1.02 MW solar array, will produce more than 30% of the buildings' energy needs and likely increase its already impressive current Energy Star Rating of 95 to 98, indicating energy efficiency greater than 98% of US commercial buildings.

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OSEIA 2017 Bill Tracker

Track 2017 Bills Important to OSEIA:

HB 2681 - RETC: Residential Energy Tax Credit Extension

HB 3227 - Creates a taxpayer incentive for community solar subscribers

HB 2760 - Extends sunset for property tax exemption for alternative energy systems

HB3242 - Residential property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs

HB 3050 - Relating to solar photovoltaic power generation facilities - Dead.

SB 339 - Clarifying the Small-Scale Renewable Mandate in the Increased Renewable Energy Standard

SB 979 - Renewable Energy Direct Access - Dead.

Join our legislative rapid response team, we need your help!

Thriving Company Culture through the Eyes of a PV Installer

This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews for my exclusive column on Thriving Culture. The intention of this series is to give you, as a reader, a sense of where and how culture is thriving in the solar industry, and how you might begin to strengthen company culture in your own company or place of business. I conducted this interview with Anthoney Robinson, PV Installer and Energy Consultant at Elemental Energy, which currently employs 15 solar team members with 2 solar install teams.

Tamara: How would you describe your path to becoming an installer at Elemental Energy?

Anthoney: I was in the Marine Corps right after high school. I didn't particularly enjoy that too much, but I did learn that I like manual labor. I can't sit behind a desk – it’s something that I just can't wrap my head around...

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Another 115MW Coming to Oregon

New Oregon Solar Energy Development Program Enrolls First Round of Projects. The 15 projects selected to date represent 116MW of the total 150MW capacity.

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Solar Trade Group Releases Blueprint for Oregon’s Solar Future

Oregon’s electricity could be 10 percent solar by 2027 by installing enough solar capacity to power 500,000 homes.

The Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA), Oregon’s solar trade association, today released its Oregon Solar Plan, which outlines a blueprint for the next 10 years of the state’s energy future. The plan, a collaboration between OSEIA and Lewis and Clark Law School’s Green Energy Institute, finds that solar can provide 10 percent of Oregon’s electricity needs by 2027 by installing enough solar capacity to power the equivalent of 500,000 Oregon homes.

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RETC Update- 3.17.17

A quick update on the RETC; Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit —> a great program driving solar in Oregon for many years!

  1. The RETC program is scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2017
  2. OSEIA is pushing for a 6 year extension of the RETC
  3. It has been assigned a bill number: HB2681
  4. You can track some of the details here.

Generations Credit Union Offers Financing for Solar in Oregon

Hello, Oregon Solar Installers!

My name's Bill Paulen, and I am the President and CEO of Generations Credit Union. It's my pleasure to introduce our financial institution to you. I met many of you at the recent 2017 OSEIA member meeting, and many more at the 2016 ASES/Intersolar conference in San Francisco. That was easily my favorite conference of the last several years... Way more fun checking out cutting edge solar equipment and listening to solar presentations than sitting through days of financial institution regulatory compliance topics.

Several years ago, Washington installations skyrocketed when competitive solar financing became available, and Generations is proud to have been a part of that. Our mission now is to make the experience of borrowing for a solar PV system as easy as getting a car loan. We’ve deployed state of the art mobile loan application tools that allow borrowers to apply from their cell phones in less than 5 minutes. We will equip your salespeople with tools to allow them to concentrate on selling solar PV systems, not trying to wade through the financing process. And we will keep you, the leaders of this effort, informed of our progress as we work together to provide a frictionless, EASY process for consumers to invest in solar...

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Policy Update- 2.28.17

We're nearly four weeks into Oregon's legislative session and, while it's still too early to read the tea leaves, prospects look hopeful for OSEIA's major policy priorities this session. The House Environment and Natural Resources Committee tentatively scheduled a mid-March hearing for two OSEIA priorities—extending the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) and extending the property tax exemption for solar. To prepare, OSEIA's executive director, Jeff Bissonnette, spent part of last week in Salem. He heard good feedback in a round of lobby meetings with legislative leadership and with every member of the environment committee.

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Oregon Solar Review - February 2017

Click here to read February 2017 Oregon Solar Review

My Solar Story - Lori Bokovoy

My path to the solar industry was kind of a long courtship: Unsure of what I wanted to do, I kept looking into solar every few years until I eventually decided to take the plunge and go for a solar career.

My first exposure to solar was a solar engineering class I took at Portland State University in 2006 as part of my master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I loved the class and wanted to take another, but this was the only solar class they offered. I graduated from PSU later that year and didn’t think much about solar until 2009, when I decided to take John Patterson’s Solar Installer Series class.
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Oregon’s Solar Industry Hosts Largest Member Meeting Ever

Over 100 attendees representing over 55 businesses display the vibrancy of this industry. This year OSEIA is telling a different story than they have told in the past. Solar is growing in Oregon, and growing quickly. The industry has never been as cohesive as it is today. “I was completely stunned,” noted Craig Ernst, OSEIA’s development director. “We have never seen this type of participation. We had over 11 folks running for 5 open board seats. I barely recognized half of the attendees. We are onto something!”

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​OSEIA 2017 Board of Director Candidates

There are 11 people who have declared their desire to run for the board and whose eligibility has been confirmed for the upcoming 2017 board election. Incumbent board members running for re-election are designated by an (i).

  • Nick Armstrong - SolarCity (i)
  • Kaitlin Borstelmann - CED Greentech (i)
  • Jason Carr - Cypress Creek Renewables
  • Casey Dilloway - A&R Solar
  • Eric Hansen - TrueSouth Solar (i)
  • Zach Kissel - Auric Solar
  • Suzanne Leta Liou - Sunpower
  • Evan Ramsey - Bonneville Environmental Foundation
  • James Reismiller - Abundant Solar
  • Jerry Samaniego - Solar Energy Design
  • Sarah Wilder - SolarWorld

Voting will be at the OSEIA Member Meeting on February 24. Anyone who is not able to attend on Feb. 24 should contact Jeff Bissonnette at jeff [at] oseia.org to get and submit an early ballot. Click Read More below for candidate bios.

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My Solar Story - Jeff Bissonnette

I have a book on my office bookshelf called the “Alternative Energy Sourcebook 1991.” It’s a catalog of sorts from the Real Goods Trading Corporation that offers solar modules and any number of micro-hydro and other renewable systems. So I’ve had a long-standing interest in solar and renewable energy.

I keep it around to remind myself how far we’ve come in terms of the technology and the capacity to serve as a real energy resource. I didn’t get a chance to actually work on renewable energy until I came back to Oregon in 1998 to work for the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB). CUB represents residential ratepayers and while most consumer advocates are just focused on energy as a pocketbook issue, CUB also looks at energy from the perspective of Oregonians’ values. Oregonians care where their energy comes from, they want to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, they want clean up our energy grid.

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Jeff's First Anniversary

It’s Been a Year Already?

February 1, 2016 was a busy day for me. It was my first day working for OSEIA, I had a board meeting, it was the first day of the 2016 legislative session and for the first time in over 17 years, I was the new guy.

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Oregon Solar Review - January 2017

Click here to read January 2017 Oregon Solar Review

Thriving Company Culture through the Eyes of an Office Manager

This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews for my exclusive column on Thriving Culture. The intention of this series is to give you, as a reader, a sense of where and how culture is thriving in the solar industry, and how you might begin to strengthen company culture in your own company or place of business. I conducted this interview with Kelli Wolford, Office Manager at Synchro Solar, which currently employs 10 solar team members with 2 solar install teams.

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Oregon's utility-scale solar incentive brings flood of projects

Projects totaling 291 megawatts have applied for the state’s new Solar Development Incentive Program — but only 150 megawatts will get in.

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Ready to advance your career in Oregon’s solar industry?
Ready to advance your career in Oregon’s solar industry?

Support the Oregon SolarPAC!!!

OSEIA has started a political action committee to increase our voice and influence with our decision makers in Salem. Your donation to the Oregon SolarPAC helps expand OSEIA’s capacity to develop a marketplace for the widespread adoption of solar energy in Oregon. More information>