Policy Update: Lots Happening; Lots Still to Do
As this update is being written, there is a big effort going on in the legislature to create a new residential solar incentive. A big effort around community solar rulemaking just finished but there’s still a lot of work to do to implement a community solar program.
Legislative Update: The Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) will expire at year’s end, but we have the chance to create a new tax credit to help residential customers install solar on their rooftops. The new credit, known as the Residential Incentive for Solar Energy (RISE), will make it easier for residential customer to go solar. We are currently pushing hard to make sure that the new tax credit will be included in the final tax credit bill that the legislature will consider before the session ends.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Salem, OR (June 29, 2017) – Today, the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) adopted community solar rules that will bring the state one step closer to enabling all Oregonians to directly participate in, and benefit from, local solar projects without having to place solar panels on one’s roof.
Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1574 on Mar. 10, 2016, directing the PUC to develop a community solar program with the goal of expanding access to affordable, local clean energy. Community solar allows multiple energy customers – families, businesses and schools - the ability to share in the benefits of a local solar project and receive credit on their electric bill for their portion of the clean power produced. Community solar can make solar accessible to every Oregonian with an electric bill. For the last year, the PUC’s staff and Commissioners have worked with stakeholders to develop the program rules approved today.Read more
My first introduction to solar was either helping a friend design a solar cooker in an engineering class or using my hand lens magnifier between the sun and a small pile of dry leaves to start a campfire at geology field camp in Eastern Oregon. Either way, both seemed like rather economical methods to harness a readily available source of renewable energy. After earning my geology degree it was a natural fit to end up in the energy industry. I started working with utilities and developers to site and permit large gas pipelines and offshore terminals.
News broke earlier this week that a former Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) employee pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges following an Oregon Department of Justice Investigation into the agency. The former employee had been an administrator in the department’s now-defunct Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) Program. He admitted to abusing his position to garner $291,000 in kickbacks over 3 years, from mid-2012 to early 2015...
Things at the Legislature are Happening Fast, Slowly -- The legislative session keeps moving forward. Things change rapidly, sometimes on an hourly basis. But final decisions seem to come slowly with entire days going by without clarity. But so it goes.
We are definitely seeing forward movement, though. HB 2760, the property tax exemption extension, passed out of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee on a unanimous vote. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote and, assuming it passes, will go to the Governor for her signature. It has no opposition so we expect the bill to pass easily.
Details are still being worked out but we’ve also seen some movement on the solar tax credit (soon-to-be) formerly known as RETC. Don’t panic when you read this line but the program known as the Residential Energy Tax Credit will be allowed to sunset at the end of December 2017. BUT…under a new agreement recently developed by a legislative workgroup, on January 1, 2018, a new residential solar tax credit will immediately take its place. The new program...Read more
On Tuesday, June 20 at 10:30am Jeff Bissonnette testified on behalf of OSEIAstating the importance of adopting Appendix U to provide clear standards, provide consistency with practices already promulgated by the Energy Trust of Oregon. See Jeff's comments here.
Appendix U, solar ready provisions, can be found here.
As we move into mid-June, lots is going on in Salem at both the Capitol and the Public Utility Commission (PUC).
The Oregon House last week passed the extension of the property tax exemption (HB 2760) by a vote of 55-1. The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate where it was assigned to the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee. It has been scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, June 20. It faces no opposition by any interest group and conversations with committee members have been positive. Work continues on extending the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC).Read more
With about 24 hours to prepare, both solar and energy efficiency advocates responded in a big way for the RETC hearing on Friday, June 2. Nearly 50 support letters were e-mailed to the committee in advance of the hearing - a huge show of support. Special thanks are due to Shaun Franks of True South Solar in Ashland, Bob Westerman of IBEW in Coos Bay and Sam Beeson of Mitsubishi Electric in Seattle all showed up in person to testify. Their efforts were rounded out by 6 or 7 others all testifying in support of extending the RETC.
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