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RNP Press Release
July 1, 2010

Solar Energy Pilot Program Launches in Oregon

Heavy Response Marks Key Step in Exploring New Ways to Incentivize Renewable Options

Portland, OR — The Renewable Northwest Project (RNP), a leading advocate for renewable energy throughout the Northwest, applauded today’s launch of a pilot program that will test a new approach for incentivizing solar options for energy customers in Oregon.Within minutes of its launch, the first wave of program offering was taken, indicating extremely high demand among energy consumers.
 
“We are excited about the new solar pilot and optimistic that it will yield significant learning opportunities,” said John J. Audley, deputy director with Renewable Northwest Project. “Response to today’s kick-off is comparable to ticket sales for a major rock concert,” Audley added.
 
Under the “feed-in tariff” pilot program, solar system owners will be able to sell the energy they produce back to participating utilities at rates more than five times retail electricity rates. They also will be eligible for select federal tax credits. This phase of the program is primarily structured toward small and medium-sized solar producers - such as residential and small business systems - but projects of up to 500 kilowatts also qualify, which equate to about two acres of solar panels.
 
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) recently issued final rules for the program that offers an alternative to more traditional financing of solar projects. Past projects have been financed with a combination of state business energy tax credits (BETCs), incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), federal tax credits and credits from the utility based on the energy produced by the solar facility but not used by the customer. The solar pilot program is an opportunity to test another incentive approach.

“We view the pilot as an experiment that, over time, will garner important data and lessons about what works well and what does not when it comes to factors for successful solar incentives,” Audley noted.
 
Details about the Oregon solar pilot program are available at:
 
Oregon leads the nation in solar manufacturing industry presence and is home to corporate headquarters for world leaders in the industry. The new initiative marks a significant step in a larger effort among the global community to capitalize on solar potential. Germany and Ontario, Canada have implemented similar feed-in tariff initiatives that effectively sparked significant investments in solar options.
 
To date, Oregon has $2 billion in investments in renewable energy projects. Renewable energy investments in Oregon have meant over 1600 jobs created, over $76 million in farmland leased and over $142 million in property taxes and community service fees contributed.
 
“We will carefully monitor the pilot and draw from its outcomes as we work with regional and national partners toward expediting a clean energy future,” concluded Audley.
 
Renewable Northwest Project is a regional nonprofit advocacy organization promoting responsible development of renewable energy resources in the Pacific Northwest.
 
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For more information contact:
Erin Greeson, Communications Manager
(503) 223-4544
erin@rnp.org
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