How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Oregon

The photo with solar panels and a woman's palm holding a toy house shows the flag State of Oregon in the sun.

How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Oregon

Key Points

  • Oregon offers a wide variety of solar incentives, including federal tax credits, state rebates, and net metering.
  • Homeowners in Oregon can save $17,000 or more on electricity over 25 years by switching to solar panels.
  • Oregon’s renewable portfolio standards prioritize residential arrays, with a goal to produce 27% of its power through clean sources.
  • Oregon offers a property tax exemption and lacks sales tax, saving homeowners thousands of dollars.
  • Leasing solar panels in Oregon may not be the best option due to the abundance of financial incentives available.

It’s well known that the Beaver State goes the extra mile to care for its natural landscape, and its support for solar energy shows that. With everything from financial incentives to low-income solutions, there are methods for just about anyone to make the switch. With solar panels in Oregon, it’s no question that you could save thousands on equipment and utilities.

But with so many programs, where do you even begin? With the state’s renewable standards focused on residential arrays, you can find incentives from federal to municipal. Continue reading as we break down each of the available benefits.

How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Oregon: Overview

Despite its notoriously rough weather, solar panels in Oregon make a lot of sense. The decent price of equipment makes switching an easy decision. In fact, some homeowners can save $17,000 or more on electricity over 25 years.

This incredible benefit only marks the beginning in the Beaver State. With the natural environment as a priority, Oregon offers a wide variety of solar incentives. Residents can take advantage of federal credits, state rebates, net metering, and more. And if you’re low income, you can practically get an array for free. Let’s take a closer look at these opportunities.

Solar Panels in Oregon: Federal Incentive

There are plenty of ways to save money on solar panels in Oregon, but the most reliable comes in the form of the federal solar tax credit. With this program, homeowners receive a 30% tax return for all purchases made toward an array, including labor, equipment and batteries, and sales tax. Those that install a 6kW system could save as much as $4,500 on initial costs.

However, certain conditions exist to qualify for the credit. Foremost, you must buy your system outright or with a loan. You’ll also need to live in the house where the system is installed and purchase all new equipment.

You have plenty of time to utilize the federal solar tax credit; the program lasts in its current state until 2032. However, the return quickly tapers off, lowering to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034. Finally, unless it’s extended, the federal return terminates in 2035. So don’t wait forever to take advantage of this incentive.

Oregon’s State Credits and Rebates

Homeowners have the opportunity to save the bulk of their solar expenses through financial incentives, such as credits or rebates. Fortunately, Oregon is one state with plenty of available rebates, providing you with a physical check for purchasing solar equipment.

First, Oregonians should see if they qualify for Energy Trust incentives. If you’re a customer of either Portland General Electric or Pacific Power, you could receive a cash payment of $400-$450 for a new installation. While the rebate used to be worth more, a few hundred dollars off is still helpful.

Additionally, several municipalities offer their own financial incentive. For example, if you live in the City of Ashland, you could receive a payment of $600 for your solar array. Combined with Energy Trust’s incentive, you’re already at $1,000 off the installation cost. Other municipalities that offer incentives include:

  • Eugene (Lane Electric Coop)
  • Salem
  • Lincoln (Central Lincoln PUD)

The affordably of solar skyrockets if you qualify as low or medium income. The Solar Within Reach program offers a cash incentive depending on the size of your array. If you meet the qualifications for the benefit, you could receive a payment of $0.90 to $1.00 per watt. This means you could earn up to $5,400 to $6,000 in addition to these other rebates.

The roof of a house with solar panels on a top, Hillsboro, Oregon
Depending on where you live and your income range, you could save thousands with rebates for solar panels in Oregon.


Solar Panels in Oregon: Government Regulations

The financial benefits from the above section come largely due to Oregon’s comprehensive renewable portfolio standards (RPS). We use a state’s RPS to determine its intention to invest in future renewable infrastructure. Oregon’s RPS is not just aggressive, but it goes above most by prioritizing residential arrays.

The Beaver State has an immediate goal to produce 27% of its power through clean sources. This stepping stone supports an overall objective of 50% by 2040. And this represents just one segment — large investor-owned utilities.

In fact, smaller operations also have objectives:

  • Consumer-owned utilities: 25% by 2025
  • Small utilities: 10% by 2025
  • Smallest utilities: 5% by 2025

These small and smallest utilities typically range from 500kW or less. And if your system is connected to the power grid, you’re considered a utility provider. 

This suggests that Oregon has a goal of producing a notable percentage of its power from residential arrays. As such, you can expect to receive great support when considering an installation.

In addition to the RPS, Oregon has solid net metering regulations. This mandate requires municipalities to pay homeowners for excess solar energy. In Oregon, you’ll receive a credit worth the retail rate for the solar electricity you don’t use each month. Credits don’t roll over at the end of the year, but those left over get invested in low-income solutions.

Finally, the Beaver State offers a property tax exemption alongside its lack of sales tax. This means that you won’t pay extra for the increased value of your home. The exemption on property taxes can save you thousands over the course of 15 years.

Should Oregonians Lease Solar?

In some states, homeowners have the opportunity to lease a solar panel system, saving them money on an installation. While this option disqualifies you from any financial incentives, including the federal solar tax credit, it’s often a good way to save money on utilities while improving your carbon footprint.

While you can lease solar panels in Oregon, this is one state where you might consider otherwise. The amount of state support for renewable energy makes it easy to afford an array, even if you’re low-income. If you leased, you’d be missing out on incredible financial opportunities.

However, if purchasing simply is not an option (for example, if you’re a renter), you have another alternative. Oregon began its community solar program in 2017, allowing residents to utilize a solar garden for a fraction of the cost of electricity. And if you’re low income, subscription rates to a community program come discounted.

Solar Panels in Oregon: Incentive Summary

Federal Tax Incentive30% credit
Oregon Tax Credits / RebatesNone / State, municipal, low-income
Net MeteringNet metering at retail rate, credits expire annually
Renewable Portfolio Standard50% by 2040
Property Tax Exemption100%
Sales Tax ExemptionNone (no sales tax in Oregon)
Performance Payment ProgramNone

How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Oregon FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do you actually save money going solar in Oregon?

With decent rates on equipment, homeowners in Oregon can save money on utilities. Even with poor sunlight and low electricity prices, those that make the switch could earn back over $17,000 or more. And with the incredible amount of state-level support, there’s even more to save.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves in Oregon?

With an average annual utility bill of $1,282.80, Oregonians could pay off a 6kW system in about 11.7 years. While this is longer than normal, it’s important to know that some homeowners might not need as much energy, resulting in a shorter payoff.

How much do solar panels cost in Oregon?

Homeowners in Oregon can expect to pay about $2.50 per watt for solar energy. This equals around $15,000 for a 6kW system, although some may need more, depending on sunlight and location.

Can I use the federal tax incentive in Oregon?

Oregonians can utilize the federal solar tax credit, which offers a 30% return on all purchases made toward an array. While the equipment must be purchased outright in order to qualify, homeowners can cut the cost of an installation by $4,500 or more.

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