MOLALLA, Ore. — October 29, 2013 — In a place known for its cloudy weather, Oregon has reached an important milestone that truly makes the most of its sun. Solar panels went up today on the 5,000th home to install solar power with help from Energy Trust of Oregon, a nonprofit that provides cash incentives and services for going solar. By connecting 5,000 solar-powered homes to the grid, the nonprofit estimates it has helped avoid producing 7,100 tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of removing 1,250 cars from Oregon roads for a year.
“From Pendleton to Portland, Ashland to Astoria, thousands of Oregonians have proven that solar is a big success in our state,” said Dave McClelland, solar program manager, Energy Trust. “Energy Trust is proud to have helped so many take advantage of the sun’s abundant energy for their everyday needs, while also adding more renewable power to Oregon’s energy equation.”
Energy Trust began offering solar incentives for residential customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power in 2003 to help offset the upfront cost of going solar. When combined with currently available state and federal tax credits, the incentive helps homeowners save up to 80 percent off their installation.
The organization has also seen its roster of trade ally contractors that install solar systems expand from 36 in 2003 to a current count of 123 statewide. Trade allies receive training from Energy Trust and can coordinate the incentive paperwork for their customers.
Since Energy Trust began supporting solar projects, the solar scene has also evolved. Due to growing demand in the marketplace, costs have lowered by about 43 percent for the average 3-kilowatt system over the past five years. Plus, new opportunities such as neighborhood Solarize projects and solar leasing are making it easier for even more people to take the plunge.
Anbu Varatharajan and Durga Nallathambi live with their 4-month-old daughter in the 5,000th solar home located in Northwest Portland. Last fall, they moved into their newly-built home, which already boasts a number of energy-efficiency features — it’s both ENERGY STAR® rated and features an EPSTM, Energy Trust’s energy performance score. While the couple has an interest in sustainable energy, they were not yet sure if solar fit into their plans.
“We thought adding solar would be very expensive, until our neighbor went through the process,” explained Varatharajan. “We were able to work with our contractor on a solar lease plan, which meant no out-of-pocket cost for us right now, but we can still make a positive environmental impact, and of course an impact on our energy bills.”
Energy Trust solar trade ally contractor SolarCity installed the new 5.75-kilowatt system.
Another solar milestone home is located right in Mollala. Long-time resident, Joan Zuber is owner of the 4,000th solar home to receive Energy Trust incentives. Zuber installed her system in 2012, together with neighbors as part of Growing Solar Clackamas County. By first making improvements to the energy efficiency of her home — adding insulation, energy-efficient windows, an efficient ductless heat pump system as well as ENERGY STAR appliances —Zuber was able to maximize her home’s savings from solar. Trade ally contractor Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. installed Zuber’s system.
“Solar is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. I love inspiring others who come out to see the system, plus I’m getting all this free electricity. You can really see the difference,” said Zuber. “Where we live in the Cascade foothills, we tend to get a bit more sun than locations in the Willamette Valley, but I strongly encourage others to see if it’s something that could work for them, too.”
For more information about Energy Trust cash incentives for solar and connections to qualified solar trade ally contractors, visit www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.
Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save more than $1.3 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.