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Solar electric system costs have fallen dramatically over the past five years. Thanks to cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon and tax benefits from the state and federal government, installation costs are lower and the outlook will be sunny — for those who act fast.
Final costs for a system on a typical Portland home will vary, but it’s possible to purchase a system that produces about 20-30 percent of a home’s electricity needs for under $5,000. This same system cost upwards of $15,000 just five years ago.
Now may be the best time in history to go solar, because these low prices are temporary. The federal tax credit for residential solar, which offsets 30 percent of solar project costs, is slated to sunset at the end of 2016. Solar Oregon, a longtime partner of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, has launched the Solar Sprint campaign to encourage Oregonians to go solar now, before the federal tax credit expires. The goal of the Solar Sprint is to add another 10,000 residential solar systems by 2016, doubling the number of solar homes in Oregon.
Solar offers consumers many benefits. It’s an attractive investment opportunity for homeowners who want to own their system, especially those who have already made energy efficiency improvements. Solar protects against rising energy costs, increases home value, reduces carbon pollution that comes from using fossil fuels to power our homes, helps create local jobs, and keeps energy dollars circulating in the local economy.
There also are solar leasing options for those want the benefits of clean energy generation, but don’t want to pay anything upfront. Oregon’s solar market has a variety of consumer choices and options. Visit http://energytrust.org/renewable-energy/solar/residential/ for more details.
The City of Portland has worked consistently over the past several years to reduce the costs of going solar. This work has focused on streamlining permitting and planning and zoning processes, encouraging a supportive regulatory environment, and making information about solar permitting clearer and easier to access. Portland is part of a regional collaborative known as the Northwest Solar Communities project, which develops standardized tools to make the process of going solar simple, fast, and cost effective for customers and the jurisdictions and utilities that serve them. BPS would like to thank the Bureau of Development Services for its important contributions to these efforts.