Financing Options to Cover Initial Costs
While the net cost of solar electric is reduced by incentives and tax credits, only the Energy Trust and other utility incentives are paid up front. This leaves the system owner writing a substantial check to the contractor. If your savings account isn’t quite up to the task, special equity lending programs are set up for renewable energy projects.
While not completely exhaustive, here is a list of solar lenders in Oregon and Washington. One of the most popular loan options for resident solar is Umpqua Bank’s GreenStreet program. Unitus Community Credit, OnPoint Credit Union, and US Bank also provide solar lending.
These financial institutions are actively promoting renewable energy projects for their customers and are helping advance Oregon’s clean, green economy. There are other programs and assistance available throughout the state. Be sure to check with your local municipality for additional options.
Some other financing opportunities:
Rural Energy for America Program – (REAP) offers grants and/or loan guarantees for the purchase and installation of energy efficiency improvements. Assistance is limited to small businesses and farmers and ranchers. Projects must be located in a rural area. REAP grants may be used individually or in combination. Together loans may finance up to 75% of a project’s cost. Grants can never finance more than 25% of the project or $250,000, whichever is less. (The REAP program also supports renewable energy projects.)
State Energy Loan Program – The purpose of the Energy Loan Program (also known as SELP) is to promote energy conservation and renewable energy resource development through low-interests loans. Individuals, businesses, schools, cities, counties, special districts, state and federal agencies, public corporations, cooperatives, tribes, and nonprofits are eligible for the program if their projects:
- Save energy
- Produce energy from renewable resources such as water, wind, geothermal, solar, biomass, waste materials or waste heat
- Use recycled materials to create products
- Use alternative fuels
- Is primarily in Oregon
Community Renewable Energy Feasibility Fund – The Community Renewable Energy Feasibility Fund, or CREFF, is a grants program that funds feasibility studies for renewable energy, heat, and fuel projects in Oregon. The fund is administered by the Oregon Department of Energy with two goals:
- Encourage widespread adoption of renewable energy projects that reduce Oregon’s dependence on fossil-based energy sources
- Promote sustainable economic development within the state