FAQs

Have a question about Energy Trust, our cash incentives or services we offer? We’re here to help. If you don’t find the info you’re looking for, give us a call at 1.866.368.7878 or email us at info@energytrust.org.

Can I install my own project and still receive incentives?

Certain projects can be self-installed and receive Energy Trust incentives. Check the specific project incentive page to see which projects qualify for self-install incentives. We provide cash incentives for materials, but not for labor. Homeowner self-installed projects must follow the guidelines in our Specifications Manual and may require a Quality Assurance verification in order to receive a cash incentive. All other projects must be installed by an Energy Trust trade ally or a licensed contractor to ensure they function safely and correctly.

I’m planning to remodel my home. Do I qualify for incentives?

Many energy-saving improvements can easily be incorporated into your home remodeling project, such as insulation, windows, heating systems, water heaters and appliances. Before you begin work, check the requirements that qualify your project for Energy Trust incentives. Please note that any upgrades required for code compliance are not eligible for Energy Trust cash incentives.

Can I receive more than one incentive for weatherization improvements, such as insulation or windows?

Yes. However, there are some exceptions. For example, you may receive one cash incentive for wall insulation—all uninsulated exterior walls must be insulated at that time in order to qualify for the wall insulation cash incentive. However, you may receive more than one window incentive for your home if you are replacing the windows over time.

For additional information about incentives for insulation or windows upgrades, click here or contact us via email.

Do I need to have an energy assessment before I can receive Energy Trust incentives?

No. If you know what energy-saving improvements you want to make, you can hire an Energy Trust trade ally or a licensed contractor to do the work and help you apply for cash incentives. However, if you need help deciding which improvements will save the most energy in your home, we invite you to start with our free online Home Energy Review.

Does Energy Trust offer cash incentives for new doors?

Energy Trust does not offer cash incentives for standard solid doors. However, you may be able to receive a per-square-foot incentive for installing an exterior sliding glass door if it meets our efficiency requirements. Click here for more information.

Does Energy Trust offer incentives for reflective white roofs?

No. Reflective white roofs can decrease the cooling load, but they can also increase the heating load. While they offer significant energy savings in warm climates, they are not very effective in Oregon.

What is Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®?

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a whole-house energy checkup that helps homeowners track down energy waste and identify cost-effective improvements that enhance year-round comfort. Using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, a trained and certified Home Performance contractor tests and evaluates your home for energy performance, health and safety.

 

After a three- to four-hour comprehensive home assessment, you will receive a customized energy- and cost-saving action plan that identifies improvements and explains how they will increase your comfort and safety. The cost for this service varies depending on the contractor you choose. Energy Trust offers incentives for many of the upgrades that may be recommended after a Home Performance assessment.

Can I get a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® assessment even if my home is fairly new?

A Home Performance with ENERGY STAR assessment is most effective for single-family homes built before 1994, but all homes can receive an assessment. Older homes were not built to meet today’s building codes, so they typically have more opportunities for energy savings. If you’d like a better understanding of your home’s current efficiency, you can start with our free online Home Energy Review.

What is a Blower Door test?

A Blower Door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of your house, lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through unsealed cracks and openings. The Blower Door test measures how much air comes through cracks and gaps in your home and helps your contractor pinpoint the sources of the leaks. If your home is very drafty, your contractor may recommend air sealing to reduce the amount of air escaping from your home.

Why should I seal my ducts?

Testing and sealing your ductwork can trim your energy costs, make your home more comfortable and reduce indoor air pollution. Improperly sealed ducts allow heated or cooled air to escape before it reaches the rooms of your home, which costs you money.

Do you have any other incentives for income-qualified customers?

Yes. Energy Trust provides income-qualified customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista with increased cash incentives for making qualified energy-saving home improvements. Click here to learn more about Savings Within Reach and how to qualify.

You may also qualify for free energy-saving upgrades from your local Community Action Agency based on your income. Visit www.caporegon.org or call 503.316.3951 to find a community action agency near you.

What are the benefits of EPS-rated homes?

EPS gives you the ability to easily compare newly built homes based on efficiency and estimated operating costs, and find those that offer superior comfort and savings. Qualified homes are built to be at least 10 percent better than code and the average EPS home is built 20 percent above code, so when you buy a home with an EPS you know you’re getting a higher level of performance.

Click here to learn more about EPS.

Can I receive an incentive for buying an EPS home, ENERGY STAR® home or for the energy-efficient equipment installed in my newly built home?

No. Energy Trust works with builders to help them build more energy-efficient homes, and pays incentives directly to the builder to help reduce the cost of including energy-efficient equipment and building techniques. This cost reduction may or may not be passed along to homebuyers in the form of a reduced sale price. However, you may be eligible for cash incentives for new appliances or other upgrades if they were purchased separately from the home.

Construction on my new energy-efficient home was just completed but my home does not have an EPS. Can I get an EPS and cash incentives for it?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide an EPS or cash incentives for homes that have already been completed.  Newly built homes must be designed to meet EPS requirements before construction begins and go through our verification process. It is not possible to verify built-in features, such as wall insulation, after the home has been completed.

How does a home receive an EPS?

To determine a newly built home’s EPS, a third-party verifier analyzes the home’s features and construction techniques and tests performance factors such as air leakage and duct tightness. EPS is a voluntary rating that builders request before construction. A low score means it’s an energy-efficient home with a smaller carbon footprint and reduced utility costs.

How can I find an energy-efficient home?

Getting to know EPS is a great first step. EPS is an energy performance score that measures the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a newly built home located within the Oregon service territory of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista.

Click here to see a list of tours featuring EPS homes, or call 1.866.368.7878 for referrals to our Real Estate Ally network and participating builders who can help you find or build a home with an EPS.

If I build an energy-efficient addition onto my existing home, do I qualify for incentives?

Additions to existing homes do not qualify for new home construction cash incentives. Additions do not typically qualify for other cash incentives, unless you are replacing heating or water heating equipment as part of your addition, or purchasing a new energy-efficient appliance. Windows and insulation installed in new additions do not qualify for incentives because they must meet the energy efficiency standards required by building codes.

It is possible to qualify for incentives if you build an energy-efficient ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, on your property. Visit www.accessorydwellings.org or call the New Homes trade ally coordinator at 1.877.283.0698 to learn more about building an energy-efficient ADU.

Why should I use LEDs?

When you replace a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb with an LED, you can save up to $80 in energy costs over the life of the LED. Plus, LEDs can last up to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs. LEDs come in various shapes and color tones to fit all of the rooms in your home, and many styles are dimmable. LEDs also do not contain mercury, so they do not need to be recycled like CFLs.

Does Energy Trust offer incentives on lighting?

Yes, Energy Trust works with local retailers to provide instant discounts on qualifying ENERGY STAR® CFLs and LEDs. Click here to find a participating retailer near you.

Are CFLs safe to use?

Yes, CFLs are used safely by millions of people around the world. They do contain a very small amount of mercury and should be recycled to capture the mercury for reuse when they reach the end of their life. However, no mercury is released when CFLs are intact or in use. Learn where to recycle CFLs here.

How should I clean up a broken CFL?

A broken CFL poses no immediate health risk to you or your family if it’s cleaned up properly. Click here to find clean-up instructions (see CFL Resources tab).

Is there a deadline for submitting my Energy Trust incentive application?

Yes. Applications must be submitted within 60 days of completing your home energy improvement.

Unfortunately, we cannot process incentive applications submitted past our deadlines. If an extenuating circumstance prevented you from submitting your application, please give us a call at 1.866.368.7878 or email info@energytrust.org.

My contractor or retailer told me that the equipment, appliance or upgrade I installed qualifies for an Energy Trust cash incentive. However, when I looked over the eligibility requirements, the project did not appear to qualify. Can I still receive the cash incentive?

Energy Trust can only pay incentives to eligible customers for qualifying projects.

We do our best to educate contractors and retailers in the regions we serve, but not all contractors and retailers participate with us or stay up to date on current incentives. If your contractor or retailer gave you incorrect information, we encourage you to contact them directly to resolve concerns. We also welcome your feedback on their service.

Are Energy Trust cash incentives available to all Oregonians/Washingtonians?

No. Energy Trust serves customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista in Oregon, and serves customers of NW Natural in southwest Washington.

If you have service through a different utility, contact them to find out about their energy efficiency or renewable energy services and rebates. If you heat your home with oil, propane, kerosene, butane or wood, you may be eligible for rebates through the State Home Oil Weatherization Program offered by the Oregon Department of Energy.

Does it really matter how my home or water is heated?

Yes. Energy Trust serves customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista. Qualifications for Energy Trust’s services and cash incentives are based on fuel type provided by these utilities. If you are not a customer of these utilities, please contact your local utility to find out about their energy efficiency or renewable energy services and rebates. If you heat your home with oil, propane, kerosene, butane or wood, you may be eligible for rebates through the State Home Oil Weatherization program, offered by Oregon Department of Energy.

I forgot or was unable to send in my application within the deadline. Can I still receive a cash incentive?

Applications must be submitted within 60 days of completing a home energy improvement. Unfortunately, we cannot process incentive applications submitted past our deadlines. If you believe an extenuating circumstance prevented you from submitting your application, please give us a call at 1.866.368.7878 or email info@energytrust.org.

Do all ENERGY STAR® certified appliances qualify for an Energy Trust cash incentive?

No, not all ENERGY STAR appliances will qualify. Because our efficiency standards are higher than the baseline ENERGY STAR requirements, we promote the most energy-efficient models available. Click here to make sure the type and model of appliance you are considering qualifies.

Why do you need to know the fuel type of my water heater when I apply for a clothes washer incentive?

Energy Trust tracks the energy our customers save by fuel type (electricity or natural gas) and the utility providing it. One of the key features of an energy-efficient clothes washer is that it saves water, therefore your water heater doesn’t have to work as hard to heat water for the wash. Knowing how you heat your water allows us track the energy your new washer saves.

Does Energy Trust offer incentives for clothes dryers?

No, not at this time. Most dryers on the market use similar amounts of energy. However, using an energy-efficient clothes washer can help you save on drying because it uses less water and extracts more water during the spin cycle, reducing drying time.

What does IMEF mean?

IMEF stands for Integrated Modified Energy Factor, which represents the efficiency of a clothes washer. The IMEF is calculated based on the energy used to run the washer, heat the water and run the dryer. The higher the IMEF, the more efficient the clothes washer.

Does Energy Trust offer incentives for non-solar renewable energy projects?

Yes, Energy Trust offers incentives for non-solar renewable energy installations. Incentives are available for wind power, hydropower, biopower and geothermal electricity projects. Click here to see the full list of incentives for renewable energy projects.

Are there tax credits available for non-solar renewable energy installations?

Yes. In addition to Energy Trust cash incentives for Oregon customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, state tax credits and other grants may be available from the Oregon Department of Energy.

Federal tax credits may also be available, depending on the type of project.

How do I start a Solarize project in my neighborhood or community?

If there isn’t an active Solarize project in your community, you could be the spark to get it started. Begin by contacting your local government, neighborhood association or other community-based organization to express your interest in helping your community go solar. The first Solarize project took root with just one person who took the initiative to plant the seed.

Check out the Solarize Guidebook for advice and pointers on how to structure a project and feedback gathered from other Solarize projects.

What rebates or incentives are available for solar?

Energy Trust of Oregon provides solar electric cash incentives for Oregon customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power.

Some public utility districts and electric co-ops also offer solar rebates.

Tax credits, which may be combined with Energy Trust incentives, are available from the Oregon Department of Energy and the federal government.

Do I have to use an Energy Trust trade ally for my project, or can I use my own contractor?

We strongly encourage you to work with Energy Trust trade allies, as they are trained on our offerings and requirements, and we frequently verify the quality of their work.

If you hire a contractor who is not a trade ally, you are able to receive cash incentives for most projects. Your contractor must have a current Oregon Construction Contractors Board license or, for NW Natural customers in Washington, a current Washington contractor’s license in order for your project to be eligible for Energy Trust incentives.

You must work with an approved Energy Trust trade ally to receive a cash incentive for solar projects. To receive a customized list of referrals to trade allies that work in your area, visit www.energytrust.org/solarbid. Trade allies are familiar with Energy Trust’s standards and quality control requirements. However, it is your responsibility to interview and select your contractor carefully.

Are Energy Trust cash incentives available to all Oregonians for renewable energy installations?

No. Energy Trust cash incentives for renewable energy installations are only available for residential customers of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power in Oregon, or for businesses that deliver power to PGE or Pacific Power.

What is the lifespan of a solar system?

Solar panels carry 20 to 30 year performance warranties. That means they will continue to produce at least 80 percent of their original power output through the end of the warranty period. Some of the first solar panels made in the 1950s are still producing electricity today. Inverters carry a 10 to 15 year warranty but can last as long as 20 years.

How much roof space do I need for a solar electric system?

An average size, five kilowatt residential solar electric system will have 16 to 20 panels and require about 400 square feet of roof space.

How much does solar cost?

For a solar electric system, the cost depends on the size of the system and the ease of installation. Use our solar calculator to see how much solar might cost. To receive a customized bid from trade allies that work in your area, visit www.energytrust.org/solarbid.

How much power does a solar electric system produce?

An average five kilowatt solar electric system will produce between 5,000 and 7,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, depending on where in Oregon it is located. That’s 50-70 percent of a typical Oregon home’s electrical load.

Are there solar programs for low-income homeowners?

Currently, there are no solar programs for low-income homeowners. However, if you are planning an energy-efficiency upgrade, Energy Trust offers increased cash incentives through our moderate income program, Savings Within Reach. Oregon Housing and Community Services offers low-income weatherization programs.

Can I receive an Energy Trust incentive or tax credits if I install my own solar system?

Self-installed systems are not eligible for Energy Trust incentives or Oregon state energy tax credits.

What resources are available if I want to install solar myself?

We don’t have recommendations for buying your own solar panels, but there are many online resources available. Solar Energy International offers installation classes in several western states, including Washington.

What is a solar inverter?

The inverter is the “brains” of the solar electric system. It changes the DC (direct current) electricity into AC (alternating current) or “household” electricity. This power is then fed directly into a double breaker in your home’s main electrical panel.

Can I heat my house with solar?

If you heat your home with electricity, a solar electric system will help offset the energy you use to power your heating system. Homes can also be designed to absorb heat passively through the sun. Only systems that generate electricity are eligible for Energy Trust cash incentives.

What is net metering?

Oregon’s net metering law allows utility customers to generate their own electricity and reduce their electricity bills.  If you install a solar electric system, your electric utility will replace your existing utility meter for a bidirectional “net” meter. This meter keeps track of how much electricity you use from the utility and how much your solar systems supplies to the grid. Each month, the power you used from your utility is offset by the power you send to the utility. You are only charged for the difference or the “net.”

If you generate more power than you use in a given month, your electric bill will have no charges, and you will receive kilowatt hour credits that will be applied to your future bills. Unused credits will accumulate in your account, so what you “save” during sunny summer months can be applied to charges during cloudy winter months. This eliminates the need for batteries to store your excess energy.

Do I need batteries with my solar system?

You don’t need to install batteries unless you want to have backup power during a utility power outage. Solar electric systems have no way to store power without battery backup and for safety reasons cannot produce power during an outage.

Will my solar electric system work if there’s a power outage?

For safety reasons, your solar electric system will stop generating electricity during a utility power outage unless you have a battery system. While batteries can be installed for backup power, they increase installation cost and complexity. As a result, most homeowners choose not to install battery backup.

Will I be disqualified for an incentive if my sun exposure reading does not meet Energy Trust requirements?

To receive an Energy Trust incentive, your solar energy system must have access to at least 75 percent of the sun available to that spot. Your solar trade ally contractor must conduct the sun assessment at the worst location of the future array or collectors and is responsible for ensuring that your system meets this requirement.

Some contractors may be more conservative with sun assessments than others. However, as long as they take measurements from the worst location and document a reading that is better than 75 percent, your system should pass inspection and qualify for an incentive.

If a trade ally’s assessment is discovered to be untrue when an installation is inspected, the trade ally is responsible for the lost incentive.

Do I need to install a new roof before installing solar on my home or business?

Your roof must have at least 10 years of remaining life in order to qualify for an Energy Trust solar incentive. This requirement protects you from having to remove solar panels for roof replacement just a few years after you install them.

Most solar contractors can estimate the age and life expectancy of your roof. If needed, they may consult with a roofer or home inspector.

Where can I learn to install solar?

If you are not a licensed electrician or plumber and want to become a professional solar installer, you must complete a licensing program. For a summary of licensing and apprenticeship programs in Oregon, visit the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association website.

If you are already a licensed professional, you can gain solar experience through installation training course at an IBEW training center, Oregon community college or the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association website.

If you are not a professional and would just like to learn how to install solar, consider enrolling in a class through Solar Energy International. They offer classes in several western states, including Washington.

Can I get incentives or tax credits if my solar electric system isn’t connected to the grid?

Only grid-tied systems qualify for Energy Trust incentives. However, off-grid systems may be eligible for an Oregon state energy tax credit and a federal tax credit.

I’m interested in constructing a new building or major renovation for a small business. What resources does Energy Trust have to support me?

Energy Trust has Market Solutions designed for small businesses of a variety of industries across Oregon. Visit the Market Solutions webpage to learn what package of energy improvements best suites your business.

Does Energy Trust offer cash incentives for net zero or high-performance commercial buildings?

Yes, owners and project stakeholders that want to pursue ambitious savings goals for their new construction project may qualify to participate in Path to Net Zero, a program that aligns with the objectives of the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

What training or learning programs does Energy Trust have for design and energy professionals interested in enhancing their knowledge?

Energy Trust provides two training series—Allies for Efficiency and Building Energy Simulation Forum—that meet on a regular basis to discuss a range of energy efficiency-related topics. Cost to attend is often free and continuing education units, CEUs, are frequently available. Learn more on the Commercial Training and Events page.

What are the benefits of designing my commercial new building to be energy efficient?

The benefits range from increasing comfort and reducing costs to receiving technical support and cash incentives. But don’t take our word for it: Learn how businesses like yours from across Oregon have partnered with Energy Trust to put efficiency on the map.

How can I qualify for Energy Trust Existing Buildings incentives?

You may be eligible for Existing Buildings incentives if you:

  • Have a project site in Oregon served by and on a qualifying rate schedule for Portland General Electric or Pacific Power for electric-saving incentives.
  • Have a project site in Oregon served by and on a qualifying rate schedule for NW Natural or Cascade Natural Gas for gas-saving incentives.
  • Have a project site in Washington served by NW Natural on a qualifying commercial rate schedule.
  • Are improving an existing structure.

If you are not sure whether your business qualifies for Energy Trust incentives, contact us before you purchase or install equipment.

What types of energy-saving upgrades qualify for Existing Buildings incentives?

Energy Trust offers incentives to help you build energy efficiency into your business, no matter the size.

  • Oregon customers can take advantage of incentives for qualified equipment for lodging and foodservice, grocery, premium gas HVAC and water heating, insulation gas and electric heat, computers, compressed air, and energy-efficient A/C units and heat pumps.
  • Washington customers can take advantage of incentives for premium gas, multifamily and greenhouses.
  • Oregon and Washington customers also may be eligible for custom incentives for larger, more complex energy-efficiency projects.
How do I work with Existing Buildings?

It’s simple, visit the Let’s Get Started page of the Existing Buildings program for a visual on the steps needed to get your project moving.

What cash incentives are available through the Multifamily program?

Energy Trust Existing Multifamily offers incentives for appliances, insulation, water heaters, windows, lighting and lighting controls, heating and cooling, solar electric systems and custom incentives.

What upgrades can I receive through the instant savings offer?

In the instant savings offer an Energy Trust advisor will install free high performance LEDs, faucet aerators, showerheads and advanced power strips in each dwelling unit.

How do I schedule a walk through survey for my multifamily property?

An Energy Trust advisor can come to your property to provide a free walkthrough survey that will identify energy-efficient opportunities for cash incentives, and determine where the largest savings potentials exist at your property.

What incentives are available for industrial facilities?

Please visit the Industry page for a full list of technical services, cash incentives and rebates available for qualifying industrial facilities.

Is Strategic Energy Management right for my industrial facility?

Energy Trust’s Strategic Energy Management, SEM, services are offered in a variety of ways to match the needs and abilities of your company and staff. Check out the Industrial SEM web page to see if SEM is a good fit for your company.

What technical services and cash incentives are available for agricultural facilities?

Please visit the Agriculture page for a full list of technical services, cash incentives and rebates available for qualifying agricultural businesses.

How do I access the Lighting Tool application?

Call the Energy Trust of Oregon Lighting Program hotline at 503-939-9383 for forms and applications.

What does the Oregon Department of Energy offer?

The Oregon Department of Energy is a state agency that administers state energy tax credit programs. Oregon taxpayers may get a credit on their Oregon income taxes for making their homes or businesses more energy efficient or for installing renewable energy systems. Some entities may be able to “pass-through” the tax credit to a pass-through partner and receive a cash payment instead. Visit the Oregon Department of Energy for information on state energy tax credits for residences and businesses.

What types of tax credits are available?

Federal and state tax credits may be available for the installation of energy-efficient equipment and improvements and renewable energy systems. These tax credits are available to both businesses and homeowners, but are subject to change. Consult your tax professional, the Oregon Department of Energy or the IRS for current information.

If you are a customer of PGE, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista, you may also receive an Energy Trust cash incentive in addition to tax credits.

In some cases, grants may be available.

How can I get information on tax credits available for my project?

We maintain basic details on state and federal tax credits that may be available for your energy-efficiency or renewable energy project. Visit our cash incentive pages for homes, commercial businessesindustrial and agricultural businesses and renewable energy. For more detailed information on state and federal tax credits, please visit:

How do I get my state tax credit?

Please consult your tax professional or the Oregon Department of Energy at 1.800.221.8035 to learn how to apply for state tax credits.

How do I get my federal tax credit?

To learn how to apply for a residential federal tax credit, visit ENERGY STAR, consult your tax professional or contact the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. To learn how to apply for a business federal tax credit, consult your tax professional or the IRS at 1.800.829.4933.

Who do I work with if I’m getting an Energy Trust incentive, a state tax credit and a federal tax credit?

Some energy projects may qualify for an Energy Trust cash incentive, a state energy tax credit through the Oregon Department of Energy and a federal tax credit, or a combination of the three. You will need to work with each organization to receive your financial incentives: work with Energy Trust on applying for an Energy Trust cash incentive; work with the Oregon Department of Energy on applying for a state energy tax credit; and work with the IRS to receive a federal tax credit. In some cases, your contractor can assist you with these applications.

Are there tax credits for installing solar panels at my home?

There are two personal income tax credits for homeowners who install a solar energy system, a federal tax credit and a state of Oregon tax credit. If you receive an Energy Trust incentive for your solar system, your eligibility for federal or state tax credits is not affected, but it may impact how your credit is qualified. Consult your tax professional for guidance.

The Oregon Department of Energy offers a Residential Energy Tax Credit. Consult your tax professional, solar trade ally or the Oregon Department of Energy at 1.800.221.8035 for current information about the credit.

The federal government also offers a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. If you lease you solar electric system, you are not eligible to claim this tax credit. Consult your tax professional, solar trade ally or ENERGY STAR for current information about the credit.

Are there tax credits for installing solar panels at my business?

The federal government offers a Business Energy Investment Tax Credit and a special, accelerated depreciation schedule for businesses that install solar. Receiving an Energy Trust incentive does not affect your eligibility for either of these tax benefits. In general, nonprofit organizations and public entities are not able to use these benefits because they do not pay taxes.

Consult your tax professional or solar trade ally for more information about these tax benefits.

How do I apply for a tax credit for my solar panels?

If you are a homeowner, your application for a state tax credit is completed by your solar trade ally when they complete your Energy Trust incentive application. Contact your trade ally if you have questions about the state tax credit. If you are interested in applying for a federal tax credit, see ENERGY STAR guide on federal tax credits for solar.

If you are a business, your solar trade ally contractor will complete your Oregon state tax credit application and send it back to you.

What tax credits are available for renewable energy projects?

The federal government and the state of Oregon offer personal income tax credits to homeowners who install solar energy systems.

If you are a business installing qualifying renewable energy technologies, such as solar, small wind, biomass, geothermal and small hydropower, you may be eligible for a Business Energy Investment Tax Credit and a special, accelerated depreciation schedule from the federal government.

Are there any special grants available for renewable energy projects?

There are several local, state and federal grants available to promote the installation of renewable energy systems at farms or businesses. Grants are typically awarded through a competitive application process and may not be able to be combined with Energy Trust incentives. For current information, contact one of the following grant programs.

What does Energy Trust of Oregon offer?

Energy Trust is an independent nonprofit organization that offers cash incentives and services for qualifying energy-efficiency and renewable power projects in homes, commercial businesses and industrial and agricultural businesses. Programs are available to Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista customers in Oregon and NW Natural customers in Washington.

Energy Trust cash incentives are separate from state and federal tax credits. If you are not a customer of PGE, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas or Avista, you may still qualify for state or federal tax credits for your project. We also encourage you to ask your utility if they offer any incentives or rebates to help you make energy-efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems.

How do I get my Energy Trust cash incentive?

Requirements vary depending on your project. In general, to apply for your Energy Trust cash incentive, complete an application form and be sure to attach all receipts, invoices and other supporting documents. Energy Trust must receive most applications within 90 days of installation—please note this is different from state and federal tax credit deadlines. Once we receive your application, you should receive a check within six to eight weeks. Visit our forms pages to find residential forms and commercial forms.

Why should I participate in Energy Trust programs?

With help from Energy Trust, you can manage energy costs, increase comfort at home, improve productivity in the workplace and protect the environment.

To date, Energy Trust has provided resources for utility customers to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy at more than 600,000 residential, commercial and industrial sites statewide. These investments have saved participating customers $2.3 billion on their energy bills so far, and over time, these savings will grow to reach $5.6 billion.

In addition, for every $1 Energy Trust invests in energy efficiency, customers will save $3.10 that would be required for utilities to provide energy from other sources. This is how Energy Trust helps keep the cost of energy as low as possible for all utility customers.

Energy Trust investments also benefit Oregon’s economy. Since 2002, Energy Trust has added $4.8 billion to the local economy.

What are Energy Trust’s goals?

Energy Trust is working to fulfill Oregon’s vision to meet future energy needs through clean, affordable energy sources. We provide comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, and our success is measured in kilowatt hours of electricity saved and generated, therms of natural gas saved, and efficient and effective delivery of services to utility customers.

Between 2015 and 2019, we expect to save 240 average megawatts of electricity, save 24 million annual therms of natural gas and generate 10 average megawatts from renewable energy sources, while expanding markets for hydropower, solar, geothermal, biopower and wind.

Over those five years, our strategies also include:

Attracting and serving more diverse customers

Ensuring internal operations are efficient and effective

Helping lower energy-efficiency and renewable energy costs to maximize customers’ returns on investment

Testing and introducing new, efficient technologies even faster

Leveraging partnerships and pursuing projects that yield multiple customer benefits, like water savings in addition to energy savings

View our 2015-2019 strategic plan and goals.

Why was Energy Trust created?

In 1999, Oregon lawmakers, citizens, utility companies, businesses, industry groups and community service organizations envisioned a future with Oregon homes and businesses powered by clean, affordable energy. They established stable, consistent funding to help Oregonians invest in energy efficiency and renewable resources. A new nonprofit organization—Energy Trust of Oregon—was created to lead the way.

Read more about our history here.

What benefits does Energy Trust bring to Oregon?

Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible for all Oregonians, and utilities rely on Energy Trust savings from efficiency to meet future energy needs for their customers.

Since 2002, Energy Trust has cumulatively added $4.8 billion to Oregon’s economy, including $1.5 billion in wages, $266 million in small business income and 3,900 full-time jobs lasting a decade. Our network of more than 2,400 trade ally contractors and other allied professionals contributes to local economies across the state.

Energy Trust has helped Oregonians avoid emitting 17.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions—the equivalent of removing more than 3 million cars from our roads for one year. (See our methodology)

Cumulatively, we have saved and generated enough clean electricity to power all the homes in Multnomah and Washington counties and heat all the homes in Deschutes County.

Read more about our benefits and results here.

How much funding does Energy Trust receive?

Through state legislation, tariffs and other requirements, Energy Trust is funded by customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista. Customers of all five utilities pay a dedicated percentage of their utility bills to support a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy services and programs.

Read more about our funding here.

How are Energy Trust programs managed?

As a nonprofit, Energy Trust strives to operate efficiently. We operate our programs through contracts with service providers. Our work is overseen by a non-stakeholder, volunteer board, and we take pride in being open, accessible and accountable to the public.

What is self-direction; who is eligible to self-direct?

Oregon law requires customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to pay a three percent public purpose charge. Under its agreement with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, Energy Trust receives and invests some of the funds generated by the public purpose charge to support energy-efficiency projects and assist with the above market costs of new renewable resources. Find out more information about Energy Trust.

Although the payment of the public purpose charge is generally mandatory, certain large electricity consumers (over 1 average megawatt or 8,760,000 kilowatt hours a year) may be eligible to “self-direct” portions of their public purpose charge payments to fund Oregon Department of Energy-certified expenditures at their own facilities. Self-direction is optional, and over time, an entity may change its self-direct status. For more information about self-direction, see Oregon Department of Energy’s website.

Can I receive self-direction credits and Energy Trust incentive funding for the exact same measure?

No. You are not allowed to receive Energy Trust incentive funds for any project (i.e., measure) for which self-direction credit is also claimed.

Where can I find a copy of Energy Trust’s Policy on Self-Direction?

A complete copy of Energy Trust’s Policy on Self-Direction is available for your review. If you are currently self-directing or think you are eligible to self-direct and might decide to do so in the future, you are advised to read this policy prior to participating in any Energy Trust program.

If I self-direct, what are my options for participation in Energy Trust’s programs?

As long as you are not planning to claim self-direction credit for the following measures, a self-director may receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive amount offered by Energy Trust for the following:

  1. Non-lighting prescriptive measures
  2. Mid-stream and upstream incentives
  3. Measures determined by Energy Trust to have modest costs ($5,000 or less per project) and savings, and where application of the self-direct policy’s requirements would unreasonably interfere with our efforts to encourage participation in one of our programs
  4. For all other measures, you can choose to either:
    • Stop using* self-direction credits to reduce your public purpose charge for a period of 36 months at the Oregon Department of Energy-certified site in which case you will be eligible to receive the full (100%) standard Energy Trust incentive amount for your measure, OR
    • Continue to use self-direction credits to reduce your public purpose charge at the site and receive up to 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive

* Energy Trust’s policy does not ask you to stop accumulating self-direction credits for any other (non-Energy Trust funded) energy efficiency or new renewable resource projects you may perform during the 36-month period as long as you do not use them to reduce your public purpose charges during this period. See response to question 6 below.

What happens to my existing self-direction credits if I stop using them for 36 months?

It is our understanding that Oregon Department of Energy lets you “bank” existing credits and you can resume using them following the 36-month time period; however, we advise you to discuss this issue and verify with Oregon Department of Energy directly.

Does the policy apply to technical analysis and feasibility studies funded by Energy Trust?

Yes, technical analysis studies or feasibility studies that receive Energy Trust incentive funding are subject to the self-direction policy.

What if I self-direct the conservation portion of my public purpose charge at my site, but I do not self-direct the renewable portion?

You would be eligible to receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for a new renewable energy project at the site, but only eligible to receive up to 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for an energy efficiency project at the site (unless you agree to cease self-directing the conservation portion of the public purpose charge at the site for 36 months – see response to question 5 above).

Can Energy Trust waive the repayment requirement for my project?

Energy Trust staff has the discretion to waive the repayment obligation only for projects whose repayment obligation would be $5,000 or less.

How long will I have to repay the Energy Trust funds?

Energy Trust will negotiate a payment schedule for the amount of the incentive funds repayment with you; however, the payment must be complete within two years of the date the repayment obligation is triggered.

What happens if I take Energy Trust’s funds and agree to stop using self-direction credits for 36 months but then, during that 36-month time period, I decide that I want to start using my credits again?

You will be required to repay a pro-rated amount of the Energy Trust incentive funding up to a maximum of 50% of the amount you received. Energy Trust uses the following formula to calculate repayment:

  • Refund Amount = 0.5 x A x B
  • A = total amount of incentives paid
  • B = 36 months minus the number of months elapsed since measure installation or completion*, divided by 36

* For energy efficiency projects, Energy Trust typically calculates the completion date as Energy Trust’s incentive payment date. For new renewable resource projects, Energy Trust typically calculates the completion date as the project’s commercial operation date.

Are the renewable energy portion and the conservation portion of the public purpose charge considered separately at the same site?

Yes. See responses to questions 9 and 10 above.

What if I self-direct the renewable portion of my public purpose charge at my site, but I do not self-direct the conservation portion?

You would be eligible to receive 100% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for an energy efficiency project at that site, but only eligible to receive up to 50% of the standard Energy Trust incentive for a new renewable energy project at that site (unless you agree to cease self-directing the renewable portion of the public purpose charge for 36 months – see response to question 5 above).

Does the policy apply to new building construction?

Yes, new building construction projects that receive Energy Trust incentive funding are subject to the self-direction policy.

If I am currently using self-direction credits on my utility bill, can I receive Energy Trust program services and incentives?

Yes, subject to certain limitations and requirements. Whether (and when) you choose to self-direct affects the services and incentives you will be eligible to receive from Energy Trust.

How do I get started with my lighting project?

Before considering lighting improvements, review your goals and how you’d like to improve your existing lighting system. Energy Trust has information to help get you started:

What incentives are available for my lighting project?

Energy Trust has developed forms to help you determine what incentives are available for your lighting project. For existing commercial, industrial and multifamily building projects please see form 190L for a full list of incentives.

What solutions are right for me?

Not sure what solutions are right for you? Tell us a few things about yourself and we'll get you right to the information you need to start saving money and energy today.

Are you interested in cash incentives for commercial buildings or multifamily properties?