Energy Incentive Programs, Oregon

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Updated February 2015

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

In 1999, Oregon's electricity restructuring law established a public purpose fund for conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy programs. The programs are funded through a non-bypassable 3% “public purposes charge” on total revenues collected by the utilities. Customers with average demand greater than 1 MW may be eligible to self-direct some portion of their public purpose charges. In 2013, the state’s utilities budgeted over $150 million to promote increased energy efficiency in the state. Additional resources were allocated through the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) regional organizations.

The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), a non-profit organization, administers the public purpose funds and offers a wide array of electric and natural gas efficiency programs to customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas.

ETO efficiency programs of interest to federal customers include the following:

  • Standard rebates for equipment upgrades and remodels such as efficient heating and cooling equipment, insulation, lighting, motors and drives, irrigation improvements, lodging, and food service equipment.

  • New construction and major renovation incentives for activities such as early design (up to $2,500), energy modeling (up to $25,000), and commissioning (up to $40,000). Incentives and tools are also available for lighting, HVAC, and other energy efficient equipment.

  • Services and financial incentives for numerous industrial processes including water treatment facilities. Projects may include lighting upgrades, controls and sensors, heat pumps, motors, variable speed drives, and custom projects. Incentives offset up to 50% of project costs.

  • Incentives for any level of LEED certification (maximum $499,999) based on total annual energy savings claimed on project submitted to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Avista’s Prescriptive Commercial Incentives program provides prescriptive rebates (up to 50% of measure cost) to commercial customers (420 and 424 rates) towards the installation of natural gas efficiency measures. Covered products include commercial kitchen equipment, insulation (limited to gas-heated buildings up to three floors and 5,000 square feet), refrigeration night curtains, and forced air furnaces. Site-specific incentives are also available for measures not covered under the prescriptive program, including heating equipment, controls and new construction measures that exceed energy codes.

The City of Ashland Electric Department’s Commercial Efficiency Program provides zero-interest loans up to $10,000 for the cost of energy-efficient equipment and rebates for efficient commercial kitchen equipment. Contact Larry Giardina at or 541-552-2065 for an application or more information.

Columbia River PUD’s Efficiency Programs for Business offer free energy evaluations, along with rebates for efficient lighting, weatherization, heat pumps, water heating and appliances. Both existing building retrofits and new construction projects are eligible.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) offers several energy conservation programs relevant to federal customers:

  • BPA provides project analysis and development through the Energy Smart Federal Partnership. Federal facilities located in areas that are served by public utilities receiving power from BPA may be eligible for energy efficiency incentives from their local utility. In addition, a financing option is available to help federal agencies finance energy efficiency projects within the BPA-served territory. Interested federal agencies may contact their local utility representative or Allison Robbins of BPA at or 503-230-5871.  

  • BPA’s Implementation Manual updated semi-annually, provides utilities, program partners and regional stakeholders information on how to implement energy-saving projects. 

  • BPA’s Commercial and Industrial programs cover lighting and refrigeration, HVAC measures, envelope, plug load, and commercial equipment. Incentives for custom projects are also offered. More details are available through the utilities that purchase BPA power as well as from many of the Pacific Northwest’s lighting trade allies.

Idaho Power sponsors the Energy Efficiency for Business initiative, with three programs relevant to federal facilities:

  • The Easy Upgrades program offers incentives of up to $100,000 per site per year for implementing qualifying energy-saving improvements in commercial and industrial buildings. Eligible projects include efficiency improvements to lighting, HVAC, variable speed drives, building shell, food service equipment, and other commercial equipment.

  • The Custom Efficiency program provides financial incentives for a wide array of lighting and non-lighting projects. The payment for approved non-lighting projects is $0.18/kWh of first-year savings or 70% of the project cost, whichever is less. Incentives for lighting projects are determined via an Excel tool. 100% of the cost of scoping audits and 75% of detailed audits (up to $12,500) are also available under the program.

  • The Building Efficiency program provides incentives to offset the cost of energy-efficient design in renovation and new construction projects. Eligible projects include interior and exterior lighting, daylight photo controls, occupancy sensors, efficient exit signs, HVAC equipment, chillers, reflective roof treatment, energy management control systems, and variable speed drive. Options are also available for efficient refrigeration and appliances with electric heating. Pre-application is required.

Municipal and electric cooperative utilities also offer efficiency programs, including the following:

  • The Emerald People’s Utility District’s Commercial Energy Programs offer rebates for efficient lighting, kitchen equipment, refrigeration, and appliances.

  • The Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) provides rebates for retrofit lighting, HVAC, food service equipment, and commercial refrigeration. Incentives are also available for custom projects. All rebates above $500 require pre-approval and have a maximum payment of $2,500 or 70% of project cost.

  • Forest Grove Light and Power works with commercial and industrial customers to identify energy conservation measures, and provides financial incentives based on the energy savings.

  • Lane Electric Cooperative’s Commercial Retrofit Program provides direct fund payments to retrofit contractors equal to 50% of total measure costs (maximum $2,500). Eligible measures include lighting, window replacements, insulation, HVAC duct sealing and repair, weatherization. A cash grant of $1,000 is also available for ducted or ductless heat pump systems.

  • McMinnville Water & Light’s Commercial Energy Programs provide rebates for efficient lighting and motors as well as process efficiency evaluations and low-interest loans for energy efficiency, renewable and alternative fuel projects.

  • Midstate Electric Cooperative offers free energy analyses and financial incentives for new and existing buildings. Interested federal agencies may contact Midstate Electric at 541-536-2126.

  • Oregon Trail Electric Consumers Cooperative (OTECC) offers rebates for lighting retrofits.

  • Salem Electric’s Energy Smart Design Program pays 50% (up to $10,000) of the costs of a design study to identify energy-saving measures beyond Oregon code for new construction or major remodel projects. Based on design study, Salem Electric will pay $0.12 per annual kWh saved (maximum $100,000 per project or 50% of incremental costs, whichever is less). For existing buildings, rebates (up to 50% of project costs) include HVAC, windows, lighting, and building envelope improvements. To be eligible, projects must be pre-approved.

  • Springfield Utility Board’s Energy Smart Design program offers an energy analysis with financial incentives and recommendations for improvement. Program has specific incentives available for lighting and tailored programs for office and grocer renovation and new construction. Federal agencies may call 541-744-2264 for more information.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

Idaho Power offers the FlexPeak Management program, a highly customizable demand response program that utilizes web-based software to provide real-time energy information to manage energy use and reduce peak load during the program period (June 1 – August 31, 2-8 p.m., Monday through Friday). Participants receive financial incentives for agreeing to be “on call” to respond within two hours to demand reduction events. Additional incentives are provided for reducing demand during events, which last from two to four hours each. Incentive payments are based on the amount of energy that can be reduced and the frequency of demand response events.

PGE’s Demand Buy Back and PacifiCorp/Pacific Power’s Energy Exchange programs are Internet-based demand reduction bidding initiatives. The utility posts a price for each hour that a load reduction is needed, and customers may voluntarily respond by pledging to curtail a specified amount of load for events, which last from one to 24 hours each.  Participants are paid the posted price per unit of measured energy reduction for each hour of the curtailment. To participate, Demand Buy Back bidders must be able to curtail at least 250 kW. 

PGE customers with standby generators with at least 500 kW of capacity may participate in the Dispatchable Standby Generation program, in which PGE can operate participants’ standby generators during periods of peak demand. In exchange, PGE will pay for the fuel and maintenance of the generators, as well as any permits and necessary control and communications hardware.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The state of Oregon has a solar requirement for public buildings. Public entities in Oregon must dedicate 1.5% of the total contract price of new construction or major renovation of a public building to solar energy technology.

Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) offers financial incentives and technical assistance for a wide array of renewable technologies. For most programs, in return for funding installations, ETO asks for a negotiated share of the project’s renewable energy certificates. Projects requesting greater than $150,000 must compete for Energy Trust funding.

  • The Solar Electric program offers cash incentives to customers of PGE and Pacific Power for installing solar electric systems. PGE pays $1.30/watt for systems up to 25 kW in size, $0.72-$1.30 per watt for systems up to 250 kW ($180,000 maximum). Pacific Power pays a standard incentive of $0.90/watt for systems up to 35 kW and $0.40-0.90 per watt for systems up to 200 kW (maximum $80,000).

  • The Commercial Scale Wind program provides resource assessments, technical assistance and cash incentives (up to $40,000) for wind installations (single or multiple turbines) sized 100 kW to 20 MW.

  • The Small Wind program provides project development assistance (e.g., site assessments, feasibility studies, and grant writing assistance) as well as cash incentives based on the turbine’s yearly estimated average energy output (AEO). Systems with an AEO up to 9,500 kWh garner $5.00/kWh and those over 9,500 kWh earn $47,500 plus $1.75/kWh for production over 9,500 kWh.

  • ETO’s Biogas, Biomass, Geothermal, and Hydropower programs offer financial incentives based on a project’s cost in comparison to the market value of the energy produced. The programs also provide project development support (e.g., feasibility studies, grant writing assistance, permitting and construction management) and may pay up to 50% (maximum $40,000) of the cost of hiring a consultant to provide technical assistance.

The Oregon Solar Incentive Program is a feed-in tariff initiative available to electric customers of Pacific Power. It is offered as an alternative to the existing (aforementioned) programs and is re-opening its application process as of May 2015. Projects receiving incentives under this program are not eligible for state tax credits, net metering programs, or solar incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon. Participants sign a 15-year agreement under which the utility pays incentives for kWh generated.

Eugene Water & Electric Board’s Solar Electric Program offers customers two incentive options for PV solar installations: 1) net metering, which pays market rates for any excess generation that flows into the grid and allows the customer to retain renewable energy credits, and 2) incentive of $0.50/watt of AC output ($15,000 maximum) for direct generation of systems up to 200 kW. Systems 200 kW and larger will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Payments are available on a first-come, first served basis and the program includes the option to sell all of the electricity generated to EWEB.

The City of Ashland’s Solar Electric PV Program offers incentives to businesses for installation of PV electric systems ($0.75 per watt, $7,500 maximum) and solar electric water heaters (rebate of up to $1,000 or a zero interest loan). For more information about these and other programs, contact Larry Giardina at or 541-552-2065.

Numerous small utilities in Oregon offer rebates and/or loans for solar water heating and/or photovoltaic installations. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for additional information.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

The Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Loan Program (also known as SELP), provides low-interest loans for projects located primarily in Oregon that save energy, produce energy from renewable sources, use recycled materials to produce products, or use alternative fuels. In addition, limited funds are available for energy evaluations of public buildings. The previously available Business Energy Tax Credit has been replaced with the Renewable Energy Development Grant Program.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), The Lighting Design Lab, and the Northwest Energy Education Institute offer educational resources and training opportunities.

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide contracts through GSA (e.g., Idaho Power and Cascade Natural Gas), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.