Get Started: Solar panel costs, incentives and benefits

Many people are discovering the benefits that come from adding solar panels onto their property – and you can too! Its easier than you might think.

What you need to know

Whether you’re looking to install solar panels on your home or your business – we can help. We’ll answer some of the most common questions about solar, provide you with important resources, and help arm you with the knowledge and information you need to talk to solar contractors with ease. Not sure you’re ready just yet? We can help with that, too. Learn about the many benefits of solar.

Are you a solar installer? Visit our Renewable Energy Installers section for helpful tips and resources.

Location is important

Sure, Florida might be the “Sunshine State” but solar power works great here, too. And while it’s true Oregon is not known as one of the country’s sunniest spots, we do get more sunshine than Germany, which is the world leader in solar energy generation. You can install solar panels on your rooftop or you may prefer a ground mount solar system. Talk to your solar contractor about which method is best for your home or business. Here are some additional location tips you should consider:

Sun and shade

Southern exposure provides maximum output, although east or west orientation may work also. There should be little or no shading year-round for optimal performance. This applies now and in the future, so consider surrounding trees or nearby construction before installing. Talk to your solar contractor for more details.

Connecting to the grid

Most PGE lines can easily support new solar projects; however, a few areas have limited capacity to connect solar without significant changes to the feeder or the substation. Small residential and business projects can still usually be accommodated but may require design changes to protect grid safety and reliability.

Check your address here.

Your space

Your PGE bill shows how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you use both monthly and daily. You and your solar contractor can use this to determine what size solar system will meet your electrical needs. Note, the output of a solar system varies depending on weather, season, and time of day. This is also a great time to consider battery storage and resiliency.

Solar costs, savings and incentives

There are a lot of expenses associated with a new solar power system, but you can cut your net costs by thousands with incentives and federal tax credits Energy Trust of Oregon Solar Resources. Additionally, Net Metering rewards you with ongoing credit for the power you generate. Apply for Net Metering online PowerClerk prior to starting your installation project.

Calculate it

Use the Energy Trust of Oregon solar cost calculator PGE to see how installing a solar system might impact your budget.

Incentives and tax credits

Participants in the PGE Net Metering program are eligible for tax credits and incentives. Learn more about tax credits and incentives Energy Trust of Oregon from Energy Trust of Oregon.

Net Metering credit

When enrolled in the Net Metering program, PGE handles both your regular PGE bill and the credit you get for the extra power your solar panels contribute to the grid. The power you use from PGE is offset by the power you send back to PGE. 

Use an approved solar contractor

You’ll want the job done right, but it’s also important to note that Energy Trust incentives require installation by approved contractors. There are requirements for credits and incentives that may apply as well. Be sure to ask your contractor for details.

Choose wisely

We recommend hiring a qualified contractor to design and build your system and assist with the Net Metering application process. Be sure to:

  • research contractors online and read reviews of them

  • get at least three bids

  • ask contractors for examples of their past work

  • verify with third parties that the contractor is legitimate

Visit Energy Trust of Oregon Energy Trust - Find a Contractor to connect with a contractor.

Get real

Make sure any estimate you get from your contractor is based on a realistic projection of your current and future electricity prices.

Between 2010 and 2015, our medium and large business customers saw a compound annual growth rate of 1 percent. While that’s not an indication of future rates, it can help you assess the projections on which your bids are based.

Questions for your solar contractor

Let’s face it, installing solar isn’t just a plug and play operation. There’s a ton of things to think about before you make the sun your new best friend in the energy business. Below are some of those considerations and resources to help guide you towards the best decision for your circumstances.

Connecting to the grid

The first place to start is to make sure your property is approved to connect to the grid. Sometimes upgrades can be made but these may be cost-prohibitive. Take the time now to find out by looking up your property on our map.

Picking an installer

Visit Energy Trust of Oregon to find a qualified trade ally contractor. Remember, only Energy Trust qualified contractors can be used to receive the incentives provided by Energy Trust of Oregon.

Energy generation and consumption

How much energy will your new solar panels generate? How will this compare with the energy you consume? These are just a couple of the many questions a qualified installer will map out for you at your specific location.

Owning solar panels

How’s your savings account looking? Purchasing solar system outright will give you the quickest payback and the highest return on investment but can be cost prohibitive. Be sure to check with your bank about available financing. Also, some installers offer financing and/or leasing options.

Avoiding sticker shock

Speaking of costs, here are some great resources to help you reduce the upfront costs of your solar system:

Energy Trust of Oregon incentives are available when you use a trade ally contractor.

Federal Incentive tax credit

  • In December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the ITC, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it.

  • Expenses that are included to claim the tax credit are: solar panels/modules, contractor labor and costs, balance of systems equipment (i.e. wiring, inverters, and mounting equipment).

Oregon rebates for solar with storage

  • Under the HB2618, Solar systems combined with storage (batteries) can qualify for a rebate. Rebates are on a first come, first served basis for complete applications.

  • The maximum rebate that can be claimed for solar + storage is $5,000 for the solar portion and maximum of $2,500 for the energy storage portion

Learn more: attend a free webinar

Solar Oregon, a solar education non-profit, offers Solar Basics workshops and an easy overview of How to Go Solar.

Get even more out of your solar – with battery power

Solar + Storage. It’s all about efficiency and peace of mind. How does it work? Simply put - when your solar system generates excess electricity, the battery stores it for later use. When your solar system isn’t producing enough electricity, it draws from your battery and/or the grid to meet the electrical needs of your home or business. When you add battery storage to your solar or wind-generated power, you are more prepared for emergency outages. Similar to installing a solar system, Solar + Storage systems can qualify for incentives and tax credits. Learn more about the benefit of Solar + Storage and how to get started from Energy Trust of Oregon.

PGE also offers a Smart Battery Pilot program that allows you to help add even more renewable energy to the grid – another win!

Other ways to support renewables

If generating your own power isn’t a good fit for you, consider PGE’s renewable power options: Green Future Choice, Clean Future Block or Green Future Solar.

More resources to help you understand your solar options