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
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.
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
Track 2017 Bills Important to OSEIA:
HB 3050 - Relating to solar photovoltaic power generation facilities - Dead.
SB 979 - Renewable Energy Direct Access - Dead.
A quick update on the RETC; Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit —> a great program driving solar in Oregon for many years!
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
2016 started out with a bang with the Oregon legislature
approving an expanded Renewable Energy Standard for Portland General Electric
and Pacific Power. It also created the policy framework for community solar and
passed an incentive for large-scale solar projects ranging from 2MW to 10MW.
Much of the remainder of the year has been taken up by the mechanics of moving
policy to real-life implementation. Much of that work will continue into 2017.
Extend the RETC; apply RETC to community solar
Extend property tax exemption for solar
Pursue changes as needed to large-scale solar incentive (HB 4037 – 2016)
Create a commercial solar incentive
Incentives to install solar on multi-family housing
Bring PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy) financing to Oregon to tie the cost of solar installation to a building's property tax
Potential Support Items (OSEIA helping but not in the lead)
Modify the mission of the Oregon Public Utility Commission to allow consideration of environmental and climate impacts
Change building codes to increase energy efficiency and solar readiness in all new residential and commercial construction
Clarify small-scale renewables mandate within SB 1547 (2016)
Support funding for Oregon Renewable Energy Center at Oregon Institute of Technology
Modify 1.5% for Solar to create more opportunities for solar and perhaps align with community solar
Ensure community solar gets a strong start (PUC)
Account for all solar costs and benefits/Resource Value of Solar (PUC)
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...Read more
OSEIA members and supporters all know that Oregon is a great place for solar. But what is solar's potential in the state? That's a key question as we look at policy questions and deal with issues like net metering, incentives for installing solar on rooftops and developing utility-scale projects.
An exciting project that OSEIA has undertaken is to create an "Oregon Solar Business Plan" to outline the potential that solar energy has over the next ten years in Oregon. Initial findings will be revealed at the Northwest Clean & Affordable Energy Conference on Thursday, Nov. 17 @ 10:50am.
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.
10 August 2016
Via Electronic Filing
Public Utilities Commission of Oregon Attn: Filing Center
Re: In the Matter of PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF OREGON,
Report to the Legislature on Incentives for Development and use of Solar Photovoltaic Energy Systems. Open via House Bill 2941.
Docket No. UM 1758
Dear Filing Center:
Enclosed for filing in the above-referenced docket is the Oregon Solar Energy Industries (OSEIA)’s Written Comments in Response to the First Draft Solar Report. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Oregon’s solar trade association filed comments today leveling serious criticisms in the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) proceeding that is developing a report on solar incentives for the legislature.
The Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA) said that it “regrets that the process has been significantly below the Commission’s usual standard of excellent public process and the draft product reflects that poor process.”
“Frankly, I was shocked at both the quality and the content of the draft report,” exclaimed Jeff Bissonnette, OSEIA’s executive director. “This is not what we’re accustomed to seeing from the PUC. Instead of thoughtful analysis that moves the conversation forward, we got a draft report full of unsubstantiated assumptions and wild guesses at the future of solar in Oregon.”Read more
In 2015, the Oregon legislature passed a bill instructing the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) to produce a report that evaluated various solar incentives. The PUC opened a docket (UM 1758) as the process to produce that report. A draft report came out late last week and, sadly, the draft reflects the process that produced it: poorly thought out with questionable conclusions. Because of this, the solar industry is pushing back hard.
OSEIA released a statement about the process leading to the draft report, comparing it to “a student who procrastinated on a school assignment.” That statement can be found here. If you want to read the draft report itself, you can find it here.
OSEIA staff has reviewed the draft several times and will submit comments by next week in accordance with the docket schedule. Those comments will make several key points:Read more
For Immediate Release -- Oregon’s statewide solar trade association sharply criticized the process that led to today’s release of a draft report, comparing a state utility regulatory agency to “a student who procrastinated on a school assignment.”
The Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association’s (OSEIA) comments came on the heels of a draft report released today by the Oregon Public Utility Commission that suggested “potentially radical” changes in Oregon’s solar energy policy. The commission is developing the report in response to House Bill 2941 passed in the 2015 session of the Oregon legislature. The legislation directed the commission to evaluate a range of solar programs and submit its report by September 15, 2016.
Although organized political giving is new for Oregon’s solar industry, it has long been standard practice for many, if not most, other Oregon professional trade organizations and businesses to lobby the legislature. Here’s a sampling of several other groups’ political giving to Oregon candidates and campaigns during the 2013-14 election cycle:
POLITICAL GIVING IN THE 2013-2014 ELECTION CYCLE
(Source: Oregon Secretary of State’s ORESTAR Database)Read more
On Tuesday, July 19th through our newly formed Oregon SolarPAC, OSEIA met with Oregon's Governor Kate Brown to discuss the importance of clean energy, especially solar energy. Joined by a consortium of renewable energy stakeholders at the Vestas offices in NW Portland, the solar industry comprised of at least 30% of all those in attendance.
The Obama Administration announced the Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative, a suite of new programs that are aimed at increasing access to solar energy and energy efficiency across the United States. In the video below, President Obama describes how the flagship program, an expansion of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, will allow more Americans to go solar, including those in low income communities. By doing so, they can save money on their electric bills while helping fulfill the U.S. commitment to combat climate change. The President's message is clear: solar is a choice available to all Americans.
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.
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.
HB 4037 of 2016 created the Solar Incentive Program for utility-scale solar development. The bill directs Oregon's Business Development Department (the Department) to establish and administer a program to provide a production incentive to solar developers, and establishes the Solar Incentivization Fund to provide the incentives.
Solar photovoltaic systems located in Oregon with a capacity between 2 and 10 MW are eligible for a $0.005 per kilowatt hour (kWh) incentive. The systems must become operational after January 1, 2016 but within a year of enrollment in the program. The incentives are paid monthly and will continue for a period of five years. If a system fails to produce electricity within two years of its enrollment, it will forfeit participation in the incentive program.
Individual owners or operators of solar PV systems may enroll projects up to a cumulative capacity of 35 MW. Utilities (both investor-owned and publicly-owned) are eligible to participate as system owners.
The program will close to new applicants January 2, 2017 or when the cumulative capacity of projects enrolled in the program reaches 150 MW.
OSEIA member, Peter Greenberg is gathering suggestions from VIR participants to help the program make a little more sense to eventually present to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) all at once in a coordinated way.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>