Did you know our state launched a rooftop solar program in January 2020, enabling Oregonians to access the benefits of renewable energy, helping people save money on their electricity bills and cut their climate pollution? And did you know that this program is focused on enabling rural and low-income Oregonians to take part in our clean energy transition? In fact, 77% of all the homes and other buildings with rooftop solar panels through this program are outside of the Portland Metro region, with 20% in Deschutes County alone.
Unfortunately, legislators have proposed cutting Oregon’s rebates to make rooftop solar and battery storage affordable due to the state budget deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This innovative program (called the “Solar + Storage Rebate Program”) is the state’s only support for many rural and low-income communities to access solar and energy storage for their own roofs. This program can help keep the lights on and provide reliable electricity as folks shelter-in-place from COVID-19 and summer wildfires, while also creating valuable and needed clean energy jobs as our state grapples with building back more resiliently.
Rolling back these existing investments in solar energy—and in so doing, jeopardizing solar installer jobs that help keep the clean energy workforce afloat—is exactly the wrong move as we look toward “building back better” for a clean and equitable economic recovery.
Oregonians in every corner of our state care deeply about clean air and clean energy. These values are fundamental to our health and well-being, especially in a pandemic, and because our state’s air and climate pollution disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
State solar incentive programs have helped Oregonians save $$$ on their energy costs and achieve clean energy independence, sustained solar jobs across the state, and reduced Oregon’s reliance on dirty, climate-harming energy sources like coal and “natural” gas (a.k.a. fossil gas). Solar is a cornerstone of the 100% clean energy economy we want and need in Oregon. We should be providing more tools—not less—for communities to break free from fossil fuels, build resiliency, and save their hard-earned money.