Update on use of Energy Trust solar incentives with utility grant programs

Last year, Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) staff were asked by the commission to review and report on the use of funds collected from ratepayers participating in Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund program or Pacific Power’s Blue SkySM Community Grant program with Energy Trust rate payer funding for renewable energy projects. During this review, the OPUC temporarily suspended use of grant funds with Energy Trust incentives for renewable energy projects, except for a small list of projects that were in progress at the time.

OPUC staff will make a recommendation to the commission on this issue at the public meeting on July 25. The agenda and meeting information will be posted on the OPUC’s Public Meetings web page. Additional information is available on the OPUC website, under Docket UM 1020.

Regardless of the recommendation from OPUC staff and the outcome, projects that are awarded funding from either utilities’ voluntary grant fund programs will not be eligible for Energy Trust installation incentives in 2017. Energy Trust is receiving higher-than-expected incentive applications for commercial solar installations this year. To support as many solar projects as possible in 2017 with a limited budget, Energy Trust added a project size cap for commercial projects and has reduced incentive amounts more frequently than last year. The decision not to fund projects also receiving utility voluntary grant funds supports our objective to serve as many projects as possible.

Solar projects that seek but do not receive funding through the utility grant fund programs are eligible to apply to Energy Trust for an incentive after they have been notified that their grant request was denied.

If the OPUC decision allows projects to combine grant funds and Energy Trust incentives, Energy Trust will revisit this decision at the end of 2017 for the 2018 grant cycle.

If you have any questions about this decision or the eligibility of a particular project, please contact Solar Program Manager David McClelland at 503.459.4073. If you have any questions about the OPUC public process, please contact Senior Utility Analyst JP Batmale at 1.800.522.2404.