Oregon's 1999 electric-utility restructuring legislation (SB 1149) required Pacific Power and Portland General Electric (PGE) to collect a 3% public-purpose charge from their customers to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through January 1, 2012. Of the funds collected by the electric utilities, 56.7% must be allocated towards energy efficiency programs and 17.1% to renewables. The remaining funds support low-income housing energy assistance and K-12 school energy-conservation efforts. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) authorized the Energy Trust of Oregon, an independent non-profit organization, to administer these programs beginning in 2002.
Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard legislation (SB 838), enacted in June 2007, established a goal that by 2025 at least 8% of Oregon's retail electrical load comes from small-scale renewable energy projects with a capacity of 20 megawatts (MW) or less. To support this goal, the legislation modified the public purpose charge for renewables to require that funding be used to support only smaller projects of 20 MW or less. The sunset date on the original 10-year public purpose charge was extended through 2025. Lastly, the legislation allowed for the electric utilities to fund additional, cost-effective electric efficiency above what could be obtained through the 3% charge.
In addition to its work under the 1999 energy restructuring law, the Energy Trust administers gas conservation programs for residential and commercial customers of NW Natural (starting in 2003 for Oregon customers and 2009 for Washington State customers), Cascade Natural Gas Corporation (starting July 2006), and Avista (starting in January 2017).
The Energy Trust's renewable energy programs include financial incentives for small- and mid-scale projects that generate energy from solar, wind, hydro, bio power, and geothermal resources. Efficiency programs include incentives for improvements to residential (new, existing, and manufactured homes), commercial, multifamily, and new buildings; retrofits; appliances; and manufacturing and agricultural processes. The Energy Trust accepts applications for funding in response to specific programs, as well as through an open solicitation process. At least 80% of the energy conservation expenditures are required to be concentrated in the service territory of the utility where the funds were collected.