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Energy Trust Boosts Incentives
for Commercial Solar Systems

by Staff
Columbia Basin Energy Report, April 18, 2007

New, higher cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon for commercial solar electric systems could make going solar an easier decision for businesses.

The new incentives support photovoltaic systems up to 50 kilowatts in size, and the maximum incentive has been increased to $70,000.

"Solar energy is more than a good thing for Oregon's environment. It's a good, solid business decision for Oregon companies," said Kacia Brockman, solar programs manager, Energy Trust. "By combining Energy Trust incentives with Oregon Business Energy Tax Credits, the Federal Investment Tax Credits and an accelerated depreciation schedule, businesses can take a big step toward reducing their energy costs while creating more clean energy for Oregon."

Energy Trust cash incentives for solar electric systems are calculated based on the size of the installation, measured in kilowatts of solar generating capacity.

Solar electric systems up to 50 kilowatts of capacity are eligible for incentives. Businesses are welcome to install systems larger than 50 kilowatts, but the incentive is capped at 50 kilowatts.

All systems receiving Energy Trust incentives are net-metered to the local utility grid, so owners receive a credit for power they generate but don't consume.

Verl Holden, owner of Holden Wholesale Growers, recently installed a 29.6-kilowatt photovoltaic system to produce electricity to help power the lights, water pumps, power equipment and computers at his Silverton nursery. The full cost of the system was $227,000. Holden received an Energy Trust incentive of more than $43,000. Holden has applied for an Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit and will claim the federal solar tax deduction for 2007.

Holden expects to save about 34,000 kilowatt hours of electricity year, and anticipates his out-of-pocket cost of the system to be repaid by energy savings in four years.

"We're really pleased to be on the cutting edge of what needs to be done, greenwise," said Holden. "Our return on investment is far better than we could get by just leaving the money in the bank. You're not going to get a return like that any place. So, as a company that produces trees, we're green anyway, and now we're even greener."

Energy Trust's solar incentive is structured in two tiers, with a higher incentive for the first 30 kilowatts and a slightly lower incentive for the next 20 kilowatts. The maximum total incentive a business can receive is $70,000 in PGE's service territory and $57,500 in Pacific Power's territory.

Solar electric systems may also qualify for state and federal tax credit programs, including the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit, which is equal to 35 percent of eligible system cost; the federal investment tax credit, which is equal to 30 percent of installed system cost; and the Modified Accelerated CostRecovery System, which allows businesses to recover investment in solar systems through rapid depreciation deductions on federal tax returns.

For more information about state and federal tax credit programs, visit the Energy Trust solar electric web pages, and follow the links to the state and federal websites.

Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing how Oregonians use energy by promoting energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for Oregon customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas.

For more information, visit the Energy Trust website,

Energy Trust Boosts Incentives for Commercial Solar Systems
Columbia Basin Energy Report, April 18, 2007

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