Oregon is in the midst of a drastic shift in its solar strategy, only you wouldn't notice it based on recent news. The state in late August launched efforts on two big, highly visible projects -- one just off a major highway and the other across parts of its university system. But those projects were widely funded by money locked in long ago from the all-but-extinct Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC), which was essentially defunded during the state’s last biennium budget. The two projects launched in Oregon got in under the wire, but they may also serve another purpose. Their visibility could be seen as a daily reminder of the communal and economic power of large-scale solar. That, in turn, may help build public support once the next two-year budget begins to take shape.
U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu came to Portland Wednesday and while he was in town to promote engineering education, he also got a chance to talk about what he sees as the next great space race: sustainability. A sense of urgency is needed now as the U.S. competes with the rest of the world — most notably China — for leadership in clean energy.
A list of frequently asked questions ranging from federal and state tax credits to LEED building standards.
Energy Trust of Oregon is helping commercial and industrial customers who may be impacted by changes to state energy tax credits by providing bonus cash incentives for qualified lighting upgrades and custom capital energy efficiency improvements. To be eligible for these bonus incentives, a project must be enrolled with Energy Trust September 1 or later and be completed by December 15, 2011.
A North Portland community center is on its way to being the first certified "Living Building" in the state and one of only a handful in the world. At first glance the June Key Delta Community Center may look just like any other modern building. But the structure is actually just a few solar panels away from being totally self-sustaining.
SoloPower will lease a 225,250-square-foot building in the Rivergate Industrial District in North Portland. The facility will produce flexible solar panels and will initially employ 170 workers. At full build-out, after $340 million in planned investment, it will employ 500.
Western states could generate big economic and public health dividends by more aggressively pursuing a low-carbon, clean-energy strategy that relies on renewable energy, conservation and smart grid technologies, according to a new report from the Grid West Group. The report looks out 40 years and compares the economic, environmental and public health outcomes in 2050 of two electricity industry trajectories. The "business-as-usual" approach continues heavy investment in cleaner coal and natural gas plants, while a "clean energy vision" relies on efficiency, distributed renewable generation and an upgraded electrical grid. And not surprisingly, it concludes the clean way is the right way, one that would create bigger economic opportunities, more jobs, greater energy security and improved public health.
The roof of the 12-foot-tall steel canopy, built by EV4 Oregon, is covered with solar cells that generate power for a pair of ECOtality Blink Level 2 electric-vehicle chargers at the base. The facility is connected to the electrical grid, so any excess electricity from the solar cells can be sent to the local utility.In many ways, electric vehicles are a good fit in Portland. The city is compact enough that the average day’s driving of most households, about 20 miles, is easily covered on a single battery charge. Three-quarters of the state’s residents live along the Interstate 5 corridor between Portland and Eugene, two hours south. Oregon also relies heavily on hydroelectric power, which produces no direct carbon emissions. Portland has a dense street-car and light-rail network, and the city has the country’s highest per-capita ownership of Toyota Prius hybrids.
SolarWorld's panels will provide electricity to 1000 low-income families in Santa Barbara County, California. The 2 megawatt (MW) system is believed to be the nation's largest for a government-sponsored affordable housing project. All told, more than 7,200 solar panels - made by SolarWorld - will offset 100% of the energy consumption of 863 units of affordable housing, including both tenant and common areas, and trim power costs for both the Housing Authority and residents.
In a study covering existing and new houses sold between May of last year and April 30 of this year, the Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit group based in Portland, Ore., found that newly constructed homes with third-party certifications for sustainability and energy efficiency sold for 8 percent more on average than noncertified homes in the six-county Portland metropolitan area. Existing houses with certifications sold for 30 percent more. A study conducted two years ago by the institute in Seattle and Portland identified what may be another plus: Homes marketed with energy-efficiency certifications appear to sell faster on average than those without.
"Oregon Building Codes Division wins sixth annual Jeffrey A. Johnson Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Building Energy Codes"
Oregon has long been recognized as a national leader in energy efficiency. The Oregon energy code has consistently been one of the strongest in the nation, spearheaded for more than two decades by the Oregon Department of Energy. Two years ago official state support for the energy code moved to the Oregon Building Codes Division, which immediately began to aggressively pursue further improvements to the code. In 2009, a wide range of stakeholders were brought together in the state to create Senate Bill 79, which represents a path to continually improve energy efficiency. Under requirements in Senate Bill 79, the Building Codes Division administered the adoption of a 15% energy efficiency increase in Oregon's mandatory commercial energy code which was completed in 2010 and a 10% gain in the mandatory residential code which was completed in 2011.
Portland General Electric and the Oregon Department Transportation broke ground on a $10 million solar array at the Baldock Rest Area on Interstate 5 south of Wilsonville. The project comprises almost 7,000 panels spread over seven acres of land owned by ODOT behind the rest area. It will generate up to 1.97 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year -- about 9 percent of the electricity consumed by the agency in the utility's service territory. PGE hopes to flip the switch in January.
After looking into alternative energy about three years ago, Farmer Don Christensen decided to diversify his crop and get into solar. By mid-October, his nine acres, and almost 12 nearby, will be hosting the largest ground-mounted solar arrays developed in Oregon to date. The two sites, located west of Amity, will create a combined 2.85 megawatts. That's enough to supply a city of 2,300, which is half again Amity's size.
SoloPower Inc., which makes thin-film solar cells, won final approval on Friday for a $197 million federal loan guarantee to expand its San Jose headquarters and open two manufacturing facilities in Portland, Ore. Together, the two new facilities in Portland and the expanded one in San Jose will provide 450 permanent jobs, as well as 270 construction jobs, and produce enough solar modules each year to generate 400 megawatts of electricity. A megawatt is a snapshot figure, roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 homes at any given instant.
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Electric car-charging stations have been popping up all over Oregon. And now, a co-op that's striving to be a model of sustainable living is making waves in Corvallis. And to make the co-op even more environmentally friendly, solar panels provide some of their energy needs.
Oregon’s commercial solar business took off after state Legislators in 2007 increased the value of the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit from up to 35 percent of the cost of a renewable energy project to 50 percent. But faced with a crippling deficit, Legislators this year were forced to cut from non revenue-generating programs. The BETC program, which made available $300 million in tax incentives during the two year period that ended June 30, was turned into a grant program with just $3 million to split among all renewable energy technologies.
Heat and solar energy go hand in hand. We've all seen installations that provide solar hot water and solar heating. But if we could come up with a sort of “combined-reversible solar-thermal” system that could provide airconditioning in the summer, heating in the winter, and hot water year-round, the circle would be complete. It's possible, and new solar-concentrating collectors and airconditioning technology are making this type of system technically and economically feasible.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) recently announced finalists for this year’s Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards, and one of the four finalists in the “growth stage company” category is Grape Solar of Eugene, Oregon. Ocean Yuan, a UO graduate and Eugene resident, is President of Grape Solar and is being recognized for helping revolutionize how solar is sold in the United States. His company is one of the largest solar consortiums in the world, consisting of dozens of Chinese manufacturers involved in the solar energy supply chain, which yields 500MW of manufacturing capacity per year.
Gates Furniture in Grants Pass, Ore., found a combination of lighting efficiency improvements to save energy, and a solar electric system to produce power, was the right one-two punch to keep energy costs in check. And cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon helped make the investments possible.