The U.S has witnessed remarkable solar growth over the past decade. Oregon currently ranks 20th in the nation for installed solar capacity, but a five-year projection of 2,144 megawatts (MW) for solar makes Oregon a growing state for the solar industry. The state’s 158 solar companies and more than 30,000 homes already powered by solar mean cities like Portland can benefit from the solar opportunities available in the state. In this article we’ll explain why Portland, Oregon is a great spot for solar power and how Portland homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Portland?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Portland was $3.45 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Portland is $17,250 before any rebates or incentives.
Though this price may already look attractive, it’s missing a major incentive that bolsters the economics of solar in the U.S.: the federal tax credit for solar energy systems. The solar ITC signifies a huge price reduction thanks to a hefty 30 percent rebate offered to both residential and commercial markets. Check out this data table that shows the cost of solar at different system sizes with the ITC factored in:
Portland solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings
||Portland Average solar system cost
The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Portland after the solar ITC is included. The data draws from real quotes submitted to homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the past year. Keeping in mind the typical system size for a U.S. homeowner is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), a solar panel system will cost just over $12,000 in 2017.
Oregon’s net metering and other incentives
Oregon’s net metering program allows homeowners to sell excess solar power back to the utility for full credit. The program also allows homeowners to “bank” their solar energy credits with the utility so when a homeowner uses more energy than their solar system produces, they can use their banked solar energy credits to offset the cost.
Additionally, when a homeowner installs solar panels, they are eligible for a credit on their Oregon state taxes to help recover expenses. For solar panel systems, the credit is $1.70 per watt of installed capacity, up to $6,000. Coupled with the federal solar tax credit, this reduces costs dramatically but this credit will expire at the end of 2017.
Utilities also offer solar incentives such as Oregon’s solar electric incentive program. Customers of Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power are eligible for a rebate of anywhere from $0.60/watt to $0.75/watt as long as the system is owned by the homeowner and not leased from a third party owner. For an average 6 kilowatt solar panel system, rebates can be as much as $4,500.
How Portland homeowners can save big with solar
Though Portland residents will see solar prices in the country continue to decline over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable.
In 2017, solar quotes received by Portland homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $41,010 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Portland net 20-year savings from solar
||Average solar savings over 20 years
Three tips for solar shoppers in Portland
Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can save thousands on their solar panel installation.
The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.
Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.
For any Portland homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.