Oregon Solar News

OSEIA Trade Case Letter

OSEIA Trade Case Letter

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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My Solar Story - John Patterson


In 1979 at the ripe young age of 30 I built a new home in Northwest Portland. I installed a solar water heating system in May 1980. Proudly standing next to my solar collectors, on May 18th I watched Mt. St. Helens erupt. I was a real estate broker, having just started my own company selling a condominium project misfortunately called “Ash Creek Park”. As the region was covered in ash, and with interest rates climbing to 19% nothing was selling and I had a big mortgage to pay. I called the solar company who’d installed my system and asked them if they could use a part time salesman. I told them I could sell anything I believed in.

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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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Solar Workforce Diversity Study Benchmarks the Industry


A diverse workforce better reflects the perspective of its customers, fosters innovation and retains existing talent—all of which are key contributors to financial performance.

That’s why a first-of-its-kind report will be released later this year on career pathways and diversity in the solar workforce. As an initiative of the Solar Energy Industry Association’s Women’s Empowerment Committee and administered by The Solar Foundation, the study will establish a baseline on specific job responsibilities, salaries, and levels of leadership for women, minorities and veterans. It will compare the results to other industry sectors and identify best practices and areas for improvement.

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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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Solar Industry Hails Public Utility Commission Approval of Community Solar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

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.

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My Solar Story - Jennifer Rouda


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.

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A Tax Credit Program That Doesn’t Exist Anymore Keeps Causing Problems


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...

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Policy Update - 6.22.17


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...

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OSEIA and Solar Oregon provide comments on "Solar Ready" requirements

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.


In addition, Meghan Craig testified on behalf of Solar Oregon stating that Appendix U provides a minimum standard that protects the consumers by making sure when they buy "Solar-Ready" what they are getting can actually be used to install a complete system; saving time, money, and frustration in the long run. See Meghan's comments here.


Appendix U, solar ready provisions, can be found here.

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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SolarKi's New Owner -Diem Pham's Biography


Over thirty years ago, as a communist child from the Vietnamese city of Saigon (capital city of South VietNam) fell to North Vietnamese forces on April 30th, 1975. The fall of Saigon (now Ho Chin Minh City) effectively marked the end of the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese people fled their country any way they could find possible. They became known as “Boat People,” and many settled in America. Vietnamese boat people refers to refugees who fled Vietnam by boat and ship after the Vietnam War, and I was one of those refugees. I believed and still believe that hope is the only way to survive. The number of boat people leaving Vietnam and arriving safely in another country totaled close to 800,000 between 1975 and 1995.

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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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Oregon Solar Review - May 2017

Click here to read May 2017 Oregon Solar Review

Policy Update - 5.31.17


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.

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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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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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Oregon Solar Review - April 2017

Click here to read April 2017 Oregon Solar Review

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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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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