Pendleton is beginning a citywide initiative to install solar panels on residential homes with an eye toward eventual job creation and a niche market for renewable energy.
The intent of this is to put Pendleton on the map as a residential solar leader, says Tracy Bosen, Pendleton’s economic development director.
Lee Jorgensen, Pendleton’s community and sustainable development coordinator, says few electricians and other contractors are familiar with solar installation in Pendleton. One purpose of the program is to diversify that sector of the workforce.
LiveLight Energy, a contractor based in Beaverton, was selected March 9. Installations are to begin in June. No goal for installations has been set, but 300 home-owners have expressed interest.
A city-run fund of up to $500,000 will provide zero-interest loans to help citizens with the price. “One of the big barriers for solar is that there is a really large up-front cost,” Jorgensen says.
The hope is it will be as successful as a similar program in Portland. Solarize Portland, a collaboration between the Energy Trust of Oregon and Southeast Portland’s neighborhood coalition Southeast Uplift, brought together homeowners in Southeast Portland interested in installing solar panels.
Lizzie Rubado, the Energy Trust’s residential solar project manager, says the program appeals to people who may not be able to afford the upfront costs and who do not mind collectively buying panels. That sector of the market is different from people traditionally buying solar panels.
“There’s going to be a lot more solar going in Oregon at a more affordable price,” Rubado says.