Oregon's residential solar market: steady not stellar
By Gretchen Holzgang
The residential solar market in Oregon is steady but far from thriving.
With the end of the Business Energy Tax Credit, the residential solar market is expected to be a bright spot in the solar industry. Despite this, industry experts are not expecting to see large growth in Oregon’s residential market for 2012.
“I think (the residential solar market) will continue to grow, but I doubt we’ll see a three to four times increase like we did from 2010 to 2011,” said Glenn Montgomery, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association.
Predictions for the Oregon residential solar market are similar to the U.S. solar industry as a whole. Nationally the industry is expected to experience a period of slower growth, according to a November ClearSky Advisors U.S PV Market Forecast.
Although Oregon’s Residential Energy Tax Credit remains at $3 per watt, other available incentives in Oregon are reducing. The Energy Trust of Oregon offers incentives through Pacific Power and Portland General Electric. The Pacific Power incentives are dropping this year to $1.25 per direct current watt. The PGE incentive is holding steady at the same $1.75 rate.
In addition, the feed-in tariff program isn’t expected to generate much to the overall growth for the residential solar market. The five-year pilot program, authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2009, allows solar system owners to sell energy back to participating utilities.
Though the program is popular, the Oregon Public Utility Commission voted to lower payments to participants to hedge the program’s popularity, it still has a low capacity rate.
“Unless the feed-in tariff rate is increased, we won’t see a tremendous amount of growth on the residential solar side,” said Montgomery.
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