Solar feed-in tariff rush shakes out for Oregon businesses
By Lee van der Voo , Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Solar installation at Stoller Vineyards
At least 20 businesses are slated to build new solar systems under Oregon’s new solar incentive program, and that number is likely to climb.
Created by the Oregon Legislature in July 2009, the program, called a feed-in-tariff program, offers payments for electricity generated by newly built solar systems. Those who reserved space through the initial online enrollment process July 1 will be paid between 55 and 65 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity from systems smaller than 100 kilowatts. The rates are locked for 15 years.
Applications were taken on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the program hit capacity in most of the state just 15 minutes after opening enrollment.
“Needless to say, there was strong interest,” said Bob Valdez, spokesperson for the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which is tasked with operating the program.
And some of that interest came from businesses.
Participating utilities allotted capacity to 236 projects during this first, frenetic enrollment period. Portland General Electric approved the most qualifying applications, 118 in about 13 minutes, while Pacific Power approved 79 in 15 minutes and Idaho Power approved 39 in about two hours.
Only Portland General Electric tracked how many of those projects were proposed by businesses, noting applications were approved for 20 business projects by the utility. PGE spokeswoman Elaina Medina said the list of businesses approved for new solar, which is confidential, includes high-profile businesses likely to release news about their projects soon.
Other businesses are also likely to have signed on. Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt said the utility subscribed about 45 percent of space allocated for its program for projects larger than 10 kilowatts. He said the projects were likely proposed by businesses, though no firm data is available yet.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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