Solar Oregon Participates in PUC: Legislative Policy Development
Solar Oregon has been actively working with a collaboration of environmental and energy organizations including Sierra Club, Renewable Northwest Project, OREP, Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association, City of Portland and others to tackle energy policy initiatives.
Recently the collaborative, called Solar Works for Oregon (SWO), provided a response to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC) staff’s Draft Report on the Effectiveness of Solar Programs in Oregon. The SWO response addressed mostly the need for the Final report to include updated solar cost and cost-effectiveness information, and to include recommendations for cost-effective programs that the utilities could implement. This OPUC Report is important in that it will be used by legislators to guide future legislation on solar programs implemented by utilities.
In other initiatives, the SWO group is already working to draft legislative concepts for the 2015 Oregon Legislative session. The goal is to help move state policy to encourage solar into its next stage of development. As solar electric technologies become cost-effective to install in Oregon, there may be government and PUC policy issues that need to be resolved to maintain a fast pace for solar installation and development. Solar energy policy in Oregon until now focused helping solar become cost-effective to buyers by providing incentives (tax credits and other cash rebates). But now with some economic analyses showing that the cost of solar photovoltaic installation in Oregon has decreased to the point of being at or very close to the cost-effective point, what policies are needed to encourage utilities, businesses, farmers, ranchers, communities, and homeowners to actually install the resource. This is the challenge that the SWO collaborative is working on.
Goals of proposed legislative concepts that the SWO collaborative is developing include: (a) helping expand access to more participants in the solar market (particularly community, rural, and low-income); (b) encouraging both distributed generation and utility-scale installations for a diverse, robust portfolio; (c) providing stability in the marketplace, and; (d) encouraging Oregon’s economic development through solar products and services.
Legislative concepts are being drafted now, with a goal of distributing such concepts for further comment by mid-late Summer 2014. Solar Oregon members are invited to provide their thoughts and inputs to this process. Currently Solar Oregon Board Member Doug Boleyn is the representative to the SWO collaborative.