A Brief History
Oregon has historically had a hard time attracting investment for solar projects for governments, non-profits and other community groups. Most private investors in the renewable energy arena preferred to put their money into solar projects in California or the East Coast, where energy prices are significantly higher than in the Pacific Northwest.
Those few groups in Oregon who tried to come together to finance their own community solar projects found themselves hamstrung by securities requirements. Writing and filing the financial prospectus required to attract investors was complicated and expensive, a burden which sunk most community-scale solar projects.
In 2014, Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress (OREP) approached then-Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) about introducing a community solar bill in the Oregon legislature. The result, SB1520, neatly solved the problem by allowing Oregonians to come together in cooperatives to finance renewable energy projects in their communities, without having to file a complex financial prospectus. Oregon law already exempted certain cooperatives – agriculture, fisheries and coops of mobile home park residents – from securities registration. SB 1520 simply extended that exemption to the category of renewable energy cooperatives.
SB 1520 passed both the Oregon Senate and the Oregon House nearly unanimously, and was signed into law on March 13, 2014. An extended rulemaking period followed, where the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, wrote rules governing the cooperatives. Those rules, were finalized on October 6, 2014. On May 6, 2015, the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative was incorporated.
The rest, as they say, is up to us.