Oregon Solar News

Clean Energy Incentives Left Behind by the Legislature


Oregon has always been seen as a leader in clean energy. Before “climate change” or even “clean energy” were commonplace terms, Oregon was helping individuals make clean energy investments. In the late 1970s, the legislature created the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) to provide incentives to Oregonians to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In fact, the RETC was identified in the recently released Oregon Solar Plan as a key factor in getting solar to where it is today in Oregon. It also helped Oregon reduce its energy usage over the years.

You’d think that as we confront climate change and look to be a national leader in demonstrating the benefits of clean energy that making sure the RETC or some kind of clean energy incentive would be a legislative no-brainer.

You’d be wrong.

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A Message about RETC



Most of you have heard that the legislative effort to extend the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) or replace it with another residential solar incentive was not successful for 2017. While we negotiated a very good package that balanced the needs of the industry and solar customers with the needs of the state, one or two legislators felt that without a more stable revenue approach for the state, they could not support any tax credits, no matter how small (ours would have had a $2.7 million impact on the current budget).

We had terrific champions, we had great grassroots support (over 200 people make calls or sent e-mails on July 3 alone as we entered the final days of the session. All of that combined kept us alive all the way to the end.

But we still fell short and are now trying to determine next steps...

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ACTION ALERT: Contact Your Legislators to Support a New Residential Solar Incentive!


OSEIA ACTION ALERT: Still Time to Contact Your Legislators to Support a New Residential Solar Incentive!
CALL TO ACTION!


UPDATE, 6/30/2017: Thank you to everyone who has called or sent an e-mail to your legislators. It's making a difference! If you haven't had a chance to contact your legislator, there's still time. The original action alert is below. Take a few minutes and contact your legislator today. Legislators need to hear from you!

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
In asking for folks to contact legislators about HB 2066, some have noticed there is no reference to solar in that bill as it was introduced. That's true. But all tax credits will be rolled into one amendment and "stuffed" into that bill (yes, "stuffed" is an actual legislative term). Our efforts are aimed at making sure that the new residential solar incentive is included in that amendment and part of the overall tax credit bill. It just happens that HB 2066 has been chosen as the general bill for tax credits.

ORIGINAL ACTION ALERT

The RETC will expire at year's end, but now 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.
To win this crucial new policy, we must persuade the legislature to fund it--a decision legislators will make by July 10. We need as many solar professionals and supporters as possible to contact their legislators and urge them to support this program.
Please contact both your state senator and state representative.
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Use this form to find your state senator's and state representative's contact info (look at the "Senate" and "House" tabs after you have entered your address at the top right corner).
  2. Call their phone number or send an e-mail and urge them to support the new solar tax credit in HB 2066 using the talking points below.
  3. If you get a response, let us know by emailing max@oseia.org.
KEY TALKING POINTS
  1. Ask your legislator to support the new solar tax credit in HB 2066
  2. The new solar tax credit (Residential Incentive for Solar Energy) will help solar RISE in Oregon!
  3. If you have solar on your house, tell your legislator about how important it was for you to have help to make solar more affordable.
  4. Tell your legislator why you support more solar in Oregon (clean energy, good green jobs, etc.).
  5. Ask your legislator to weigh in with legislative leadership requesting to fund the new solar tax credit.
Contact your legislator today! If you have already contacted your legislators, a big thank you! Ask family and friends to help out!
Thanks for your help in supporting Oregon solar!
PS. Take a few minutes and call or e-mail your legislator about supporting the new residential solar tax credit in HB 2066. Let them know how important you feel solar is in Oregon!

Policy Update - 6.30.17


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.

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Policy Update - 6.16.17


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).

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Policy Update - 6.8.17


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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Policy Update - 5.26.17


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!

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OSEIA Adopts Its 2017 Solar Policy Agenda


Back in May 2016, OSEIA kicked off a six-month process where solar industry folks contributed policy ideas and then ranked them. About two dozen specific ideas ended up being thrown into the mix and the ranking reflected the top priorities for the industry.

It’s important to note that the Oregon legislature is going to be dealing with thorny budget issues. Unfortunately, our top priorities involve money. That just means we will have to present a very good case to legislators. And we have a good case to make. Here are our top tier legislative issues...

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RETC Rulemaking Meeting

Residential Energy Tax Credit
Rulemaking Advisory Committee
Oregon Department of Energy
625 Marion Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
Thursday, November 3, 2016 – 10:30 a.m.
Webinar: www.connectmeeting.att.com, Meeting #213-270-2124, Access Code: 3125235
Call-in number: 1-888-273-3658; access code: 3125235

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OSEIA Surveys Legislators, the Results Are In


Today is the last day Oregonians can register to vote in the 2016 election! If you haven’t registered, do so here. OSEIA has done some research and we want to share results with you as you consider your votes. The 2017 legislative session has a lot of important topics to discuss. Many topics will impact the solar industry in Oregon and beyond like the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) (set to expire at the end of 2017) and Property Tax Exemption (also set to expire end of 2017). While the Oregon solar industry is growing, it isn’t quite ready to stand alone without support.

The Oregon SolarPAC has been busy across Oregon raising and dispensing of funds. While fundraising has been slower than hoped for, the funds raised thus far have been put to good use, and many of our members can testify to that!

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A Stark Reminder of the Need to Educate Policymakers

The news that Governor Brown publicly proposed ending Oregon's RETC program sent shockwaves through our solar industry last week-- and for a good reason. The RETC program has been run responsibly by Oregon's Dept. of Energy, is functioning well, and is no less than crucial to our solar industry. OSEIA seeks to tell RETC's story every time we meet with policymakers. But often those opportunities occur during brief lobby meetings about pending legislation when the legislature is in session. To increase the number of policymakers who truly understand solar, OSEIA needs to expand the opportunities it has to meet and build relationships with policymakers, ideally outside the time frame of the hectic legislative session. Ultimately, our goal is for the solar industry to build legislative champions to advance the widespread adoption of solar energy in Oregon.

We have work to do! You can help in two ways:
  1. Support our effort to educate policymakers-- contribute to Oregon SolarPAC today.
  2. Help us educate the Governor about RETC by telling us how RETC is important to your business. Please email jeff@oseia.org your story by July 10.
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OSEIA Wants Your RETC Stories


Last week, OSEIA staff alerted us to Gov. Kate Brown’s letter to the Joint Legislative Committee on Oversight of the Oregon Department of Energy. In her letter, she suggested that the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) and some other tax credits be allowed to sunset. Please take a moment to write out a few of your experiences with the RETC. We need your stories to include in communications and lobbying activities over the next few months. You can send your write-up to Jeff Bissonnette at jeff@oseia.org by July 10.

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Policy Update 6/24/16


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

RETC SB 1507 Rulemaking and Solar Thermal Meeting


NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING Residential Energy Tax Credit Advisory Committee

Oregon Department of Energy

625 Marion Street NE

Salem, OR 97301

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2:00 p.m.

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HB 3344: Increases the SHW RETC from $0.60 per annual kWh to $2.00

78th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2015 Regular Session

House Bill 3344

Sponsored by Representatives REARDON, HUFFMAN, Senator DEMBROW; Representatives HOLVEY, WHISNANT, Senator BOQUIST

SUMMARY

The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced. Modifies description of solar photovoltaic power generation facility within definition of “energy facility” for purposes of site certificates issued by Energy Facility Siting Council.

Get more info >

Solar Thermal Public Meeting

The Oregon Department of Energy will hold a meeting this summer to obtain feedback from anyone interested in potential changes to the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program based on HB 2171.

HB 2171 modifies the RETC program by increasing the incentive rate for solar pool, spa or hot tub systems and solar domestic water heating systems.

Solar Thermal Domestic Water and Pool Heating
Salem: Thursday, July 30, 10 a.m.
Oregon Department of Energy
625 Marion Street NE, Salem, OR 97301
Westerberg Room

Get more info >

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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>

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