Solar Power on New or Significantly Renovated Public Buildings – Oregon

A bill passed in 2007 (HB2620), effective January 1, 2008, requires that all construction of new “public buildings” or major renovations comprising more than  50% of the existing building’s total value “contain an amount equal to at least 1.5% of the total contract price for the inclusion of appropriate solar energy technology in the public building. Solar energy technology shall include solar electric or solar thermal systems and may include passive solar energy systems when a proposed passive solar energy system will achieve a reduction in energy usage of at least 20%.”

The legislation defines public buildings as buildings occupied by employees of state, local, or special government bodies, or buildings used to conduct public business.

However,there is a clause that allows for new public buildings or renovations to be exempt of the 1.5% standard if a contracting agency determines that the inclusion of solar technology is inappropriate.  If solar is deemed inappropriate for a project, the “contracting agency shall spend an amount equal to at least 1.5 percent of the total contract price on the inclusion of appropriate solar energy technology in a future public building project.”  This inclusion on a future project would be additional to the minimum 1.5% required.

Whatdetermines if a project is appropriate or inappropriate for the inclusion of solar technology?  The text does not describe specifically how a contracting agency will evaluate this, but it does cite that public improvement contracts must include standards established by the Department of Energy on the use and cost effectiveness of solar energy systems.  A similar California Law looks at how much building space is available along with savings generated over the life of the solar energy system to determine if the project is feasible and cost effective. Still, whatever discretion given to the contracting agency in this law is accounted for by requiring them to compensate for the 1.5% on future public building projects.