Clean Energy Incentives Left Behind by the Legislature

Oregon has always been seen as a leader in clean energy. Before “climate change” or even “clean energy” were commonplace terms, Oregon was helping individuals make clean energy investments. In the late 1970s, the legislature created the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) to provide incentives to Oregonians to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In fact, the RETC was identified in the recently released Oregon Solar Plan as a key factor in getting solar to where it is today in Oregon. It also helped Oregon reduce its energy usage over the years.

You’d think that as we confront climate change and look to be a national leader in demonstrating the benefits of clean energy that making sure the RETC or some kind of clean energy incentive would be a legislative no-brainer.

You’d be wrong.

The RETC is scheduled to sunset at the end of this year. Like other tax credits, it undergoes regular review at set periods. Despite the fact that the legislature faced a very tight budget situation this session, the RETC has been long recognized as a key tool in helping Oregon implement progressive energy policy. Despite a lot of discussion and advocacy by clean energy proponents, the legislature did not extend RETC or find other ways to support residential clean energy investments.

There was a lot of discussion about how long solar investments should be subsidized. The solar industry agrees that there will be a time when solar will not need a subsidy. But solar advocates and legislators reached an agreement for an extended incentive but one that would reduce gradually to allow the industry to plan for an eventual end.

Energy efficiency is another matter. Unlike solar, which will be able to be purchased without an incentive at some point, efficiency is an investment the state should always want to help. It’s an old energy saying that the cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you don’t have to produce in the first place. Energy efficiency helps to reduce energy usage and keep costs low for all customers. Investing in energy efficiency ensures that no matter how energy is generated, whether by solar or any other means, it is not wasted.

Let’s be plain: the legislature goofed when it chose not to extend clean energy incentives for individual Oregonians. It was on the right track to help the solar industry with an incentive it needs today but to set it on a course to not need the incentive in the future. But it dropped the ball.

The legislature can correct its mistake in February however. That’s when it meets for a short session. It can extend a residential energy incentive to help Oregonians continue to make clean energy investments. You can make sure the legislature takes action. Sign the online petition (link below) to add your name to the growing list of Oregonians who are telling the legislature: “Help us invest in clean energy!”

Although the legislature heard from hundreds of people during the 2017 session, they will need to hear from hundreds more. Make sure you are one of them! We’ll keep you posted on the ongoing campaign.

Link to Oregon Solar Plan:

Link to Online Petition: