Bend home was 3,000th to go solar in 2011 using cash incentives and services offered by the nonprofit.
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 Bend, where local resident Rob Spencer is owner of the 3,000th solar home to receive Energy Trust incentives. One of the factors Spencer considered when he bought his home was its energy efficiency and solar potential, as well as the opportunity to work on improvement projects together with his teenage son Alan.
The house was already well insulated, so when deciding where to put his energy improvement dollars, solar was the next step. Local trade ally contractor E2 Solar, Inc. installed Spencer’s system. “I think of going solar and making energy-efficiency improvements as things that are multi-generational, making a positive impact for my child and future generations,” said Spencer.
“My son, who is already very conscious about his energy impact on the environment, is very proud of what we’ve done so far.”
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.