Or Email solarenergysolutions


OPB Business Partner
  1992- 2010 Tax-Credit Certified Solar Technician
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners


Photovoltaic, grid-tied solar electric systems, range in price due to the complexity of the installation, the kind of solar electric equipment used and the size of the system.

Our prices are higher than some and lower than others. However, what we feel we do better than all is our hands-on approach to each and every aspect to each and every install. We bring to all projects, expert, personal and courteous customer service. We are avid solar enthusiasts, however, we are not afraid to tell you everything you do NOT want to know about going solar, too! Our honesty is about the nuances of going solar and our attention to detail is something that distinguishes us. This is something we will provide for you throughout your installation.

We pick up our phones. If we are going to be late or if there is some deviation from expectations, we are on the phone discussing it with you. We also like to think of our installations as pieces of art, masterfully installed. We care about the quality of the components used and have an uncanny, keen eye for technical and installation details.

Average Household Electric Consumption
When looking at prices, one of the first thing folks want to know is what kind of an impact certain size systems will have on their electric bill. The answer to this question depends. The average household in Portland consumes between 10,000 and 13,000 kilowatt hours in a year. In Portland, the amount of watts a system is rated for coincidentally is also the amount of kilowatt hours your system will generate a year. For example, a 5,000 watt system will produce +/- 5,000 kilowatt hours a year. The impact differently sized solar electric system will have on your electric bill is proportional to how much of your current consumption they offset. To learn more about these photovoltaic grid-tied systems, click here or go to our PV FAQ page.

How to Calculate How Many Kilowatts a Year You Consume 
A simple mathematical equation is all it takes to figure out how many kilowatt hours a year your house consumes. Get out your electric bill and look at the graph. There are 13 bars. Add up the most current 12 and you will know how many kilowatt hours a year you use. If you need help, give us a call!

Site Specifications
There are a couple of site-specific technical specifications concerning your potential solar site you need to be aware of. One of the first things you want to think about when considering solar is how good of a solar site you have. The incentives that exist are really only meant to incent solar systems placed in the most optimal of locations. To qualify for all of the solar incentives, your house has to have a roof that has access to 75% or more of the yearly sun. This means you really can't have any shade falling on the roof where you want your solar system installed from 10 am to 4 pm. The roof does have that 25% leeway, but it gets used up pretty fast.

The other specification to be aware of is the life left remaining on your roof. The Energy Trust, especially, wants the roof your solar system goes on to have at least 10 years or more left remaining on it. If this is not something you can remember or verify and the roof life is a bit iffy, you should call a home inspector or a roofer to come on out and take a look at things. Make sure they leave you something in writing as proof you have 10 years or more left remaining on your roof.

Finally, don't feel you can't go solar just because you don't have a perfect solar site and are not eligible for all of the incentives. Every year Solar Energy Solutions installs systems that fall outside of the ideal scenario the incentives are set up to support.

Economic Reasons to GO Solar
Before we go any further, we should probably address the persistent issue of payback. Simply put, payback isn't the issue, because a simple arithmetic calculation of up-front costs versus reduced monthly expenses just doesn't capture the relevant factors. Just like a car, a kitchen countertop, TV, cell phone, or whatever, the real payback is in having something that does something for you, not recouping the costs. Furthermore, at Solar Energy Solutions, our mission statement is to move the Earth towards and environmentally sustainable future. We hope this is yours as well.

However, unlike any of the aforementioned things, there are good incentives available to encourage you to go solar. There is a substantial "reduction in price incentive" from the Energy Trust of Oregon and a Federal income tax credit.

Solar Incentives

There are currently TWO incentives available meant to strongly encourage you to GO Solar. The first is a reduction in price incentive from the Energy Trust of Oregon. The second is a Federal income tax credit.

The Energy Trust of Oregon is funded by money it receives through PGE, Pacific Power, and Northwest Natural Gas. There are also a number of smaller utilities that pay into the program. These utility companies take 3% of the money we pay them in our bills and redirect it to the Energy Trust. The Energy Trust then redistributes this money into renewable energy and other energy conservation programs. The way this pens out for solar is in a direct reduction in price incentive. The reduction in price incentive varies by the size (DC nameplate rating) of your solar system and utility area. It varies by utility company because a Monarch butterfly landed on a budding rose that was then plucked and placed on Jim Morrison's grave. In other words...we don't know. What we do know is the Energy Trust Reduction in Price incentive is GREAT! The greater in size and power rating of your grid-tied photovoltaic system, the greater the reduction in price incentive is from the Energy Trust of Oregon.

Remember, the bigger the system the bigger Energy Trust incentive!

The Federal Government: There is a federal income tax credit. Unlike any of the other incentives, there are no technical or solar site specifications on this incentive. No matter how big or small your system, how sunny or shady your site or how new or old your roof, you qualify for the federal income tax credit. However, it does assume you pay what is called a minimum federal tax. So, it would be wise to talk to your tax person first on this matter. But, assuming you qualify, it is a dollar for dollar tax credit, going against your federal income tax liability. The federal tax credit is calculated after deducting the Energy Trust of Oregon reduction in price incentive from the installed cost.

The Beauty of a Federal Income Tax Credit, is this incentive goes against your Federal income tax liability. In other words, it is money that is no longer yours. You have either paid it to the government already, or are about to. These tax credits are better than any tax deduction. You get this tax credit incentive when you file your income taxes. So, when you file your taxes, your federal income tax liability is reduced by whatever that tax credit incentive equals as a reward for Going Solar.

For example, say you have paid the Federal government $7,000 in income taxes throughout the course of the year. Because of deductions and allowances, you get $500 back. Well, if you install a system that would qualify for $5,400.00 federal tax credit, this $5,400 would then be returned to you in the form of a check on top of the $500.00 you are already getting back.

Regardless of how much you love paying your taxes, you probably have a problem with how those tax dollars are being spent. Here is a way you can get your tax dollar right back into your pocket and install a solar system to boot. With the Federal tax credit program it is like a, "Self-Directed Tax". You get to choose where your tax dollars go. In this case, they go on your roof saving you tons of energy and the environment.

Remember, you need to have a tax liability at least as large as the tax credit in order to get the tax credit. It is always best to check with your tax person to confirm what you have paid in taxes and to make sure you will qualify.

I remember when I received a tax credit when I installed my first solar system in 1992. It was an afternoon in May and I was doing some work when I heard the mailman come to the door. On this particular day he only had one piece of mail and it was from the IRS. With one eye closed and the other half open, I opened the letter wondering what the bad news could be. But then, as I peeked inside, what should my wary eyes see? A check for a TON of money. "Yippee!" I said as I ran through the house yelling, "Isn't government GREAT?!"