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
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.
Renewing the RETC (HB 2681) remains OSEIA’s top priority this session. Since the prospects for winning on RETC are very much entwined with the question of how the legislature will address the budget deficit, OSEIA has been following the budget deficit discussion closely.
Oregon’s budget deficit is structural in nature, meaning that the state’s taxes and other revenue sources routinely fail to generate sufficient funding to cover the cost of state services. Without reform to Oregon’s tax policies, large deficits will continue to impact Oregon policy-making in future sessions and threaten state programs.Read more
Renewing the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) is OSEIA’s top legislative priority this session. Since the prospects for winning on RETC are very much entwined with the question of how the legislature will address the state’s $1.4 billion budget deficit, OSEIA has been following the budget deficit discussion closely.
The legislature’s first job, above all others, is to pass a balanced state budget for the next biennium. With such a large shortfall, any program that costs money is potentially on the chopping block—that includes RETC and even critical state programs like education and healthcare.
Oregon’s budget deficit is structural in nature, meaning that the state’s taxes and other revenue sources routinely fail to generate sufficient funding to cover the cost of state services. Without reform to Oregon’s tax policies, large deficits will continue to impact Oregon policy-making in future sessions and threaten state programs.
OSEIA has never weighed in with legislature on tax issues before. But the need for the RETC may require us to do that. We are seeking input on how potential policy positions on these issues could affect members’ work and company. Members have a survey in their inbox. Go here to fill out the survey if you haven’t already.
We will be also asking for OSEIA members to contact legislators very soon to support RETC. Once we define a specific funding mechanism, we’ll need to make sure that any extension stays in the final package. We know OSEIA members are ready to help deliver the message on how important RETC is. The time to help is coming quickly so stay tuned!Read more
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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...Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
It’s hard to believe it’s already mid-October. While it
seems like a good idea to just sit around sipping all the pumpkin spice
beverages that seem to have invaded the market, things are just too busy for
solar advocates to take it easy. Here are a couple of key things that are
keeping things hopping:
Oregon PUC Draft Solar Report, Community Solar Rulemaking (AR603), Oregon Solar Business Plan, Policy (we need you to rate proposals!), and more.
Well, it’s official. Summer’s over, fall’s here, kids have
been back to school for a few weeks and the campaign season is moving headlong
toward Election Day. That means there’s a lot going on. Usually, these policy updates
focus on one or two key items but this one will touch on several important
points that are all happening at once- developing a 2017 Legislative Agenda, organizing the Oregon SolarPAC, developing the Oregon Solar Business Plan, keeping up with PUC activities, and more.
There was a time when the “dog days of summer” really did mean ”a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.” But the summer of 2016 was marked by anything but inactivity on the policy front. And it’s about to get busier.
Maybe it’s the July 4th/Independence Day holiday coming up but the saying from the American Revolution has been on my mind for the past few days. With apologies to Thomas Jefferson (who said “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”), we’ve learned recently that we need to be ready for anything as we build a stronger solar industry in Oregon.On June 24, Gov. Kate Brown sent a letter to the Joint Legislative Committee on Oversight of the Oregon Department of Energy that acknowledged the continuing shadow of the now-defunct Business Energy Tax Credit and called for allowing the Residential Energy Tax Credit and some other incentive programs to expire as they are scheduled to at the end of 2017... Read more
6.10.16 - Earlier this year, the legislative arena was the main focus of activity on the policy front. Since the legislature adjourned in February, the policy activity has moved to the Public Utility Commission. Rulemaking is getting underway around the expanded Renewable Energy Standard, community solar, and small-scale renewables.
From the desk of Jeff Bissonnette, Executive Director - As we’ve now moved well out of the legislative session, the pace of policy work has slowed to the more deliberate pace of rulemaking but the load is just as heavy. Before we dive into the issues themselves, activity around the membership of the Oregon Public Utility Commission needs to be mentioned.Read more
This policy update will provide a wrap-up of the legislative session, how those legislative issues will be addressed and will also touch on a solar task force process underway at the Bonneville Power Administration.
The legislature has entered into the final week of the 2016 short session. Solar and renewable energy bills are still making headway. As this newsletter goes to press (can you say that about an online publication?), the Oregon House just passed SB 1547, which has become the vehicle for the Clean Electricity/Coal Transition Plan (formerly HB 4036). The bill will now go back to the Senate for concurrence and hopefully final passage so that it can go to the Governor for her signature.
The legislature is beginning to enter its final phase. You can tell because the pace, which has been frantic from the start, gets even more frantic. There are also official signals - for example, a memo from the Speaker of the House saying that hearings on bills can be scheduled with one hour's notice, a sure sign that the legislative leadership is trying to herd the process toward a conclusion.
The legislative session continues to race along. We’re now approaching the half-way point. Last week was a whirlwind and next week promises to be more of the same.
Before we get to those, did you see the action alert this week? It asked folks to contact their state representative and urge a YES vote on HB 4036, which will be up for a vote today. Didn’t get a chance to do that? You still can….just do it before 10am on Monday morning. Calls or e-mails are both great.Read more
Here is a look at HB 4036, HB 4037 and SB1572.
by Jeff Bissonnette
Oregonians can agree on a lot of stuff whether it’s good beer and wine or getting outside to enjoy a mountain or a beach. Two other things: we hate coal and we love renewable energy.
A group called Renew Oregon was formed recently to harness that enthusiasm to help Oregon chart a course to a comprehensive policy to address climate change. As part of that agenda, groups involved in the effort identified a key step that needed to be taken before comprehensive climate policy could be adopted. We needed to significantly reduce coal in our energy mix and make sure it was replaced largely with clean energy, like efficiency and renewable resources.Read more
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>