Oregon Solar News

RETC Update- 3.17.17

A quick update on the RETC; Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit —> a great program driving solar in Oregon for many years!

  1. The RETC program is scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2017
  2. OSEIA is pushing for a 6 year extension of the RETC
  3. It has been assigned a bill number: HB2681
  4. You can track some of the details here.

Policy Update- 2.28.17

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.

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A Letter from the Executive Director

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.

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2017 OSEIA Solar Policy Agenda

Top Tier

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)

Second Tier

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)

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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What is Oregon's Solar Potential

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.

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OSEIA's Policy Work Picking Up Speed

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.

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Policy Update: A Little Bit of a Lot

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.

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Policy Update: The Busy is About to Get Busier

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.


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OSEIA Comments on First Draft Solar Report, UM 1758

10 August 2016

Via Electronic Filing

Public Utilities Commission of Oregon Attn: Filing Center


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.


Jeff Bissonnette

Full comment report here.

Solar Industry Remains Critical of PUC Draft Solar Report

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.”

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OSEIA Slams PUC’s Draft Solar Report

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:

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OSEIA Criticizes Utility Regulators for Flawed Process

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.

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The Power in Political Giving

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:



  • Portland General Electric: $383,119
  • PacifiCorps: $179,870
  • NW Natural Gas: $310,559
  • Idaho Power: $23,975


  • Oregon Business Association: $105,962
  • Associated Oregon Industries: $540,112

(Source: Oregon Secretary of State’s ORESTAR Database)

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OSEIA Meets with Governor Kate Brown

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.

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Obama Administration Takes a Stand on Solar Energy

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.

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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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

Policy Update

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.

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Oregon's Large Scale PV Incentive (HB 4037)

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.

Seeking Ideas to Improve VIR Payments

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.

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Crowdsourcing an Oregon Solar Policy Agenda

OSEIA’s recent Oregon Solar Energy Conference featured the kick-off of the policy agenda development process to create a comprehensive solar agenda for 2017.

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Policy Update 4/19/16

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.

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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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Western States Federal Lobby Day - April 21 in Washington, D.C.

SEIA invites you to roll up your sleeves and join us in Washington, D.C., for a power-packed federal lobby day on Capitol Hill. This day will be focused on putting you in the room with federal lawmakers who represent you and your state: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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Policy Update 3/18/16

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.

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Landmark Legislation Coming to Oregon

BOTH SB 1547 (the Clean Electricity/Coal Transition Plan) AND HB 4037 (the Solar Incentive Program) passed the Oregon Senate. SB 1547 was approved on a vote of 17-12 and HB 4037 passed on a vote of 22-6.

Thank you to everyone in the solar industry who visited the capitol, made phone calls and sent e-mails. It really did make a big difference.

There is now a lot of work ahead to make sure these policies achieve the potential they hold. You'll be hearing a lot about that in the coming months.

Know that you helped create big opportunities for the solar industry.

I'll have more details and analysis soon but wanted folks to have the news right away.

Go Solar!


Policy Update, 03-01-2016

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.

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Oregon Solar Policy Update - 2/22/16

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.

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Oregon Solar Policy Update: 2/15/16

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.

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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>