One of the biggest impediments to installation of solar panels, wind turbines and even other, more minor energy efficient measures is cost. Under a new renewable energy law in Oregon, homeowners and businesses can finally take the step towards a greener future, without shelling out up front.
Last week, the Oregon Legislature passed a new law that allows no money down towards a number of energy savings features, from added insulation to small windmills. The money is paid back over time on the consumer’s utility bill instead.
It’s another method by which homeowners and businesses can finance solar panels, microturbines and more, in order to save in the long run. By installing devices to help you capture renewable energy, you can guard against future utility hikes, and also improve the value of your home. For every $1 you can save on annual electricity bills with panels or a wind turbine, consider that a $20 boost to your property valuation.
Here in sunny Central Oregon, where the bright yellow orb is out 300 days per year, we’re expecting the new renewable energy law in Oregon to be particularly beneficial to those of us in the High Desert region. In fact, the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) noted:
“It’s really going to be driven by where the return is on energy efficiency. There are a greater variety of possibilities in a place like Bend. . . . . I think there’s great potential [there] from what I read and hear.”
Perhaps one of the greatest things about the new renewable energy law in Oregon is that it doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent. Whew! In these tough financial times, that would be a hard-sell otherwise.
Instead, the start-up and administrative costs will come from lottery-backed bonds and existing state energy-efficiency funds. With some private-financing and also federal block grants to help get local programs off the ground, it won’t be long before Oregon citizens are going green with no money down.
Actually, it may be the first part of 2010 before the new program is going at 100%. In the meantime, pilot programs will be established by the Oregon Department of Energy to determine the type of program that will best work. After that, you will be able to work with a consultant from a state-certified list to obtain an energy audit and recommendation on what makes most sense for your property.
If you use the new program, the costs are paid back over time through utility bills. If you sell your property, the debt stays with the land (not you). When you combine the benefits of the renewable energy law in Oregon with federal and state tax credits, you may be able to install a solar hot water heater (cost: $10,000) and pay it back at $40 a month over 5 years, which may be partially or completely offset by energy savings on your bills.
I’m so glad I live in Oregon. But its time for me to quit talking about all these great incentives and opportunities and start taking advantage of them!