Solar power in Oregon

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Solar panels at a winery in Yamhill County

Solar power in Oregon has been growing in recent years due to new technological improvements and a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives enacted by the state government.

Government policy[edit]

The Government of Oregon has taken a variety of actions in order to encourage solar energy use and manufacturing within the state.

Net metering[edit]

The state has a net metering program that allows for large installations of up to 2 MW of on-site electrical generation.[1] A report released in 2009 by the Network for New Energy Choices and Vote Solar gave the state's net metering system an "A" grade, a rating only 9 other states received.[2]

Renewable portfolio standard[edit]

The state adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2007 which requires that 25% of Oregon's electricity come from renewable resources by 2025.[3] The RPS was revised in 2009 to include a separate 20 MW solar photovoltaic requirement by 2020.[4]

Construction budget mandate[edit]

Passed in the 2007 legislative session, House Bill 2620, requires that public entities such as state and local governments spend 1.5% of the construction budget for new or renovated buildings on on-site solar technologies.[3][5]

Financial incentives[edit]

Residential Energy Tax Credit[edit]

The Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program aims to encourage residents to invest in energy efficient appliances or residential-scale power producing systems such as roof-mounted solar or small wind setups by offering a tax credit that covers a certain percentage of the cost of eligible equipment.[6]

Business Energy Tax Credit[edit]

The Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) program aims to encourage private businesses to invest in renewable energy in Oregon by offering a tax credit that covers up to 50% of eligible renewable projects such as power stations or manufacturing factories with a maximum limit of $20 million per project.[3]

State Energy Loan Program[edit]

The State Energy Loan Program aims to encourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy production by offering long-term, fixed-rate loans to all types of organizations and individuals with a maximum cap at $20 million per loan.[7] From the time it was first authorized by voters in 1980, the program has made over 700 loans worth a total of $335 million.[8]

Feed-in tariff[edit]

The Oregon Legislative Assembly established a feed-in tariff for solar power modeled on feed-in tariffs in Germany,[9] allowing owners of solar installations to be paid for the electricity they produce.[10] On May 28, 2010, the Oregon Public Utility Commission approved the trial feed-in tariff rules.[11] Under the approved rules, residents and businesses who install solar systems can enter a 15-year contract with investor-owned utilities in the state where they will receive guaranteed monthly payments over the life of the contract with rates ranging from $0.55 to $0.65 per kWh.[12] Funding will come from an estimated one half of 1% increase in electricity rates.[12] The trial program ends after four years and the entire project's size is limited to a maximum 25 MW.[11] Program applications are accepted biannually on April 1 and October 1. The final year of the pilot program is 2013.[13]

Manufacturing[edit]

Many solar manufacturing companies have chosen to operate in Oregon because of its cheap hydroelectric power which is important for manufacturing and because of its close proximity to California's large market.[14] The inexpensive hydroelectric power has also contributed to the high-tech manufacturing companies located in the state's Silicon Forest as well as several data centers such as Google's Project 02.[15]

Oregon was one of the only three states (along with Michigan and Ohio) to manufacture more than 100 MW of solar panels during 2009.[16] SolarWorld's plant in Hillsboro, Oregon is the largest solar cell manufacturing factory in North America and is planned to produce 500 MW of panels annually by 2012.[17][18]

Companies[edit]

Solar companies with operations in Oregon include SolarWorld, Sanyo, PV Powered/Advanced Energy, PV Trackers, Oregon Crystal, Grape Solar, Solaicx, and Peak Sun Silicon.[19][20][21][22]

Notable projects[edit]

Solar panels on State Capitol[edit]

In 2002 Oregon became the first state to install solar panels on its state capitol building.[23] The solar panels were installed on the Oregon State Capitol building, although they are not visible from the street.

Solar highways[edit]

The 104kW solar highway along the interchange of Interstate 5 and I-205 near Tualatin, Oregon in December 2008.

In 2008, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced the completion of a 104 kW solar panel project along the interchange of Interstate 5 and I-205 near Tualatin, Oregon.[24] The project is the first solar highway in Oregon and the first in the United States.

In January 2012, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced the completion of its second solar highway project with a 1.75 megawatt capacity at its Baldock Safety Rest Area south of Wilsonville.[25]

A 165 kW expansion to the first project is under study, as is a potential third solar highway project with a capacity of 3 megawatts at ODOT's maintenance storage facility in West Linn.[26][27] The 3 megawatt project in West Linn, Oregon would be the largest solar highway in the world, slightly passing the 2.8 megawatt record holder in Germany.[28]

US DOE partnership[edit]

Portland, Oregon is one of the 25 cities in the United States Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program. The program's goal is to "rapidly increase the use and integration of solar energy in communities across the country."[29]

Statistics[edit]

US annual average solar energy received by a latitude tilt photovoltaic cell (modeled).

Potential generation[edit]

Solar energy is the state's most abundant energy resource and estimates have placed the state's potential electricity production from solar power at 68,000,000 MWhs annually, an amount larger than the state's total electricity consumption of 46,457,000 MWh in 2005.[30][31]

Installed capacity[edit]

Oregon Grid-Connected PV Capacity (MW)[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]
Year Capacity Change % Change
2005 1.2 0
2006 1.7 0.5 42%
2007 2.8 1.1 65%
2008 7.7 4.9 175%
2009 14.0 6.3 82%
2010 23.9 9.9 71%
2011 35.8 11.9 50%
2012 56.4 20.6 58%
2013 62.8 6.4 11%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stoel Rives LLP (2007-08-08). "Oregon Revises Net Metering Rules". RenewableEnergyWorld.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^ Knutson, Ryan (2009-11-27). "Oregon Net Metering Policy Highlighted". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  3. ^ a b c "Oregon Approves 50% Solar Tax Credit". RenewableEnergyWorld.com. 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  4. ^ Law, Steve (2009-08-13). "Heyday for solar?". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  5. ^ Conservation Division (2009-01-14). "1.5% for Solar Technology in Public Buildings". Oregon Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  6. ^ Conservation Division (2010-04-26). "Residential Energy Tax Credits". Oregon Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  7. ^ Staff (2007-08-01). "Energy Loan Program Questions & Answers". Oregon Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  8. ^ Oregon Office of Energy (March 2008). "State of Oregon Energy Plan 2007-2009". Oregon Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  9. ^ Hsuan, Amy (2010-02-19). "Oregon's solar future could hinge on copying Germany". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  10. ^ "Oregon's Feed-in Tariff: Is This The Best Deal In Solar?". Imagine Energy. 2013-03-19. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  11. ^ a b Staff (2010-05-28). "Commission Approves Residential and Business Solar Incentives". Oregon Public Utility Commission. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  12. ^ a b Read, Richard (2010-06-30). "A pilot project starting Thursday pays customers to generate solar power". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  13. ^ "Oregon Readies To Reopen Feed-in Tariff Program For Commercial Solar". REC Solar Inc. 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  14. ^ Redell, Charles (2008-06-09). "Where does green business thrive?". Sustainable Industries. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  15. ^ Markoff, John and Saul Hansell (2006-06-14). "Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  16. ^ Mehta, Shyam (2009-09-08). "Bringing It All Back Home: PV Manufacturing in America". Green Tech Media. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  17. ^ "SolarWorld's profits, sales up". Portland Business Journal. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Timbers, SolarWorld Form Landmark Jersey Partnership". Forbes. 2010-02-24. Retrieved 2010-03-13. [dead link]
  19. ^ Hsuan, Amy (2009-11-02). "Sanyo Electric opens new solar panel plant in Salem". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  20. ^ Fehrenbacher, Katie (2008-10-06). "Pacific Northwest Could Create 63,000 Green Jobs by 2025". earth2tech. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  21. ^ Read, Richard (2010-06-02). "Grape Solar takes wraps off expansion plans in Eugene". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  22. ^ Jacklet, Ben (June 2008). "The rise of Oregon's solar industry". Oregon Business Journal. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  23. ^ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (August 2002). "Energy Office Installs PV on Capitol". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  24. ^ Rivera, Dylan (2008-08-07). "Oregon installs first highway solar project". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  25. ^ Hamilton, Allison (2012-02-15). "Innovative Partnerships Program: Baldock Solar Highway". Oregon Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  26. ^ Hamilton, Allison (2012-01-24). "Innovative Partnerships Program". Oregon Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  27. ^ Zheng, Yuxing (2009-07-26). "Debate begins on ODOT plan to install up to 17,000 solar panels on I-205". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  28. ^ Roberts, Anthony (2009-08-13). "Solar highway: Is it a bright idea?". West Linn Tidings. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  29. ^ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2009-11-02). "Solar American Cities - About". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  30. ^ Renewable Energy Atlas (2002). "Oregon Renewable Energy Resources". The Energy Foundation. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  31. ^ Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2008-06-25). "Electric Power and Renewable Energy in Oregon". United States Department of Energy. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  32. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  33. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  34. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  35. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  36. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2008). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2007". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  37. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  38. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  39. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Solar power in Oregon at Wikimedia Commons