Smart Energy: April 2016

Smart Energy: Stabilize energy costs with solar energy

 By Melanie Mackinnon
Melanie MacKinnon

Melanie MacKinnon

Solar energy brings multiple benefits to our community in Douglas County. Energy independence, security, financial savings and clean, renewable energy are all benefits of solar energy. These benefits are available to residents, businesses, community organizations and our local governments.

Solar helps provide energy independence. It is harvested locally, providing independence, at least in part, from the utility company. Much of the energy we receive from the utility companies is generated far away, in some cases, from out of state. The more energy we produce in our community, the more self-sufficient we become.

Solar energy can provide energy security. While a solar electric system doesn’t require a backup system like batteries to provide power, a system can be designed to include batteries to provide backup electricity when the utility electrical grid has a power outage. Backup electricity can help our communities be safer and more secure.

Solar energy also provides long-term financial savings. Owners of solar electric systems enjoy lower utility bills. When you generate some of the energy you use, you don’t have to buy as much electricity from the utility. It’s also good to reduce the amount of energy you use. By lowering their energy use through home energy efficiency upgrades, and adding solar, some homeowners lower their bill to just the utility base meter charge. Investing in solar energy is a way to stabilize your energy costs since you are less dependent on rising utility energy rates.

Incentives are available to help pay for a solar energy system. Customers of Pacific Power receive an incentive from the Energy Trust of Oregon for their solar electric system, currently up to $7,000 for residential systems. The State of Oregon offers a $6,000 Residential Energy Tax Credit for Solar Electric Systems. There is a federal income tax credit of 30 percent of your solar investment. The savings really add up when you take advantage of the utility incentives, state and federal income tax credits available.

Solar can help lower your utility bill and your income tax bill. Grants are also available to businesses, nonprofits and governments going solar. Since solar electric systems are built to last over 20 years, the energy bill savings really add up over the years.

Solar energy is clean, local energy. When there’s a huge solar spill, it’s called a nice day. Clean, renewable energy is a healthy energy choice for our community.

With the multiple benefits of solar energy, there is something for everyone to appreciate. Independence, security, savings and health are all valuable contributions of solar energy to our community.

Douglas County residents, businesses, nonprofit organizations and local government can and do benefit from solar energy in our community. Keep an eye out for more solar opportunities coming to Douglas County.

For tips on other ways to save and produce energy, visit

Douglas County Smart Energy is a project of the Douglas Count Global Warming Coalition.

For more information about the Coalition, call 541-672-9819 or find them on Facebook at Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.

Melanie MacKinnon is a Project Manager at Newcastle Solar in Myrtle Creek.

For more information on Newcastle Solar’s solar electric installation services, visit or call 541-396-2100.