Earlier this summer, as its session drew to a close, the Oregon State Legislature passed a bevy of bills to boost the state’s renewable energy market.

Two days before the end of session, the legislature passed HB 3201, which expanded Oregon’s existing Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC). The bill increases the cap on eligible project costs from $10 million to $20 million, and it increases the percentage cap on that amount from 35–50 percent. It also increases almost threefold the amount of credit available for projects that produce electricity from renewable resources and for manufacturers of equipment that uses renewable resources. It adds new credits for renewable energy systems installed by home builders, and it eliminates a potential cutback to the BETC for projects that are eligible for certain federal tax credits.

Solar energy advocates were pleased at the effect the BETC increase will have on their industry, since the credit will be available for solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal installations. The manufacturers’ credit could be a boon for solar equipment manufacturers who choose to locate in the state. Builders who install solar PV or hot water in new construction single-family dwellings also will be eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $9,000.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski called 2007 “a banner year for solar energy in Oregon.”

Other bills include HB 2620, which will require all public buildings that receive state funding to invest 1.5 percent of projects costs in solar technologies, and HB 3488, which provides a tax exemption for solar net metering systems.   EC