How Keizerites use the sun to save money

With PGE instituting up to an 18% price increase at the start of 2024, now more than ever may be a good time to save some money and diversify your energy portfolio with some solar panels. 

According to PGE, electricity rates will increase for residential customers by 18%, 14.4% for commercial and 11% for industrial customers.

Imagine your monthly electricity bill is around $150 per month. The increase will result in an additional $27 added for $177 per month.

For commercial customers the increase will amount to around 14.4% meaning that an average monthly bill of $591 will add up to around $698 per month.

In order to combat rising electricity prices, Oregon law allows cities to establish and protect residents’ access to solar panels, with these laws and ordinances allowing residents to place solar panels on their homes. 

Examples of these protective ordinances include: standards for orientation of new streets and lots, placement and height of new buildings, and the placement of new trees on public property.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, photovoltaic panels, or solar panels, work by absorbing energy from the sun and creating an electrical charge that moves in response to an internal electrical field within the cell. 

While solar panels do not collect and store excess energy, they do greatly supplement the electrical needs most households have. 

Oregon offers rebates for homeowners placing solar panels, up to $5,000 for a solar electric system and up to $2,500 for an energy storage system, in order to ease costs and encourage more residents to try going green.

Here are a few more of the solar energy money-saving programs that Oregon offers:

• Solar electric incentive rebate program managed by the Oregon State government provides an up-front rebate of either $1,200 or $900, depending on utility company used. 

• Local and municipality rebates are available from local utility companies and offer per-watt rebates for installed solar panels. 

• The Solar + Storage Rebate program, another Oregon State run program, is offering a rebate of up to $1.80 per watt and up to 60% of the net system cost, depending on the owner’s income.

• A net-metering program can be utilized with participating utility companies and earns you money back for excess electricity produced.

• A federal solar tax credit is also available during the season and those who purchased solar panels can reclaim up to 30% of the system cost in taxes.

Keizer resident Lisa Martin, who lives on 14 Avenue NE, has had the solar panels up for around three months and described her reason for getting the solar panels as a way to mitigate the upcoming price hikes from PGE on residential customers as well as a way to benefit from the available tax credits. 

Keizer resident Jackie and Doug Lefevre noted that they have saved hundreds of dollars a year since first having the panels as well as recouping almost $10,000 off of the overall installation price of the panels. 

The payment layout Lefevre provided shows their total cost for electricity in 2023 at around $237. Comparing this to 2011, when prices were lower and they did not have the solar panels, the yearly cost was around $930 saving them close to $700 a year on electricity, though in comparison to current PGE prices those savings are likely higher. 

Keizer residents June and Roy Price, who have used solar energy for more than a decade, described their savings over the years and how, since 2010, their yearly savings in the summer and winter have allowed them to completely recoup the cost of the panels, which cost around $27,000 altogether before both state and federal rebates which saved them an additional $19,000. 

Price described how over the life of the two solar panel systems they have installed, they have reduced the amount of carbon they produced by an estimated 334,000 lbs, or equivalent to driving an average-sized sedan over 443,000 miles. 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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