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Solar-Power Advocates Have Big Plans for Oregon

PHOTO: The nonprofit group Solar Oregon has a two-year goal to add 10,000 more homes and businesses across the state to the list of those powered by energy from the sun. A federal tax credit for solar installations is set to expire at the end of 2016. Photo credit: Farina6000/FeaturePics.com.
PHOTO: The nonprofit group Solar Oregon has a two-year goal to add 10,000 more homes and businesses across the state to the list of those powered by energy from the sun. A federal tax credit for solar installations is set to expire at the end of 2016. Photo credit: Farina6000/FeaturePics.com.
December 30, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - This has been a bright year for solar power in Oregon and the more than 130 businesses around the state that are associated with it.

In 2013, seven megawatts of solar electric capacity was installed statewide, and the 2014 total is expected to be higher, according to Solar Oregon.

The state now has enough capacity to power more than 9,000 homes. In the next two years, the nonprofit group's goal is to shepherd another 10,000 homes and businesses into "going solar," says executive director Evan Manvel.

"That's a big challenge," he says. "The federal tax credit is going away at the end of 2016, so we're trying to make sure everyone gets in the pipeline and can get solar on their homes before their '30-percent-off coupon,' so to speak, goes away."

Manvel says this year, his group has held about 20 "Basics of Solar" workshops around the state, since lack of knowledge about the process, price and potential benefits is the prime reason people don't move forward with installation plans.

While solar may not be the right fit for everyone, he thinks a good New Year's resolution would be to at least do some research.

"People should take the time, take a few minutes and look into solar energy," he says. "It's out there and you don't have to buy it, you can lease it so you don't need a lot of money to get it done."

Manvel says Bend, Corvallis, Hillsboro and Portland are among the cities that have streamlined their permitting processes or reduced costs to encourage more solar installations.

Overall, Oregon ranks about 20th in the nation for installed solar capacity, and the industry employs about 2,700 people.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR