Tax Credits for Solar Installation on Stearns Hall

Dear TIS Friends and Family,

As part of the greening of our campus and curriculum, The International School has been looking into the possibility of installing solar panels on Stearns Hall. You may have noticed the large skylights in the ceiling on the building. The backsides of the skylights would be a perfect place for installing photovoltaic panels. Those panels would help generate electricity for the building and help with our efforts to turn the rooftop of Stearns Hall into a learning laboratory.

There has never been a better time to use solar energy. Rising energy costs, increasing concerns about climate change, and an unprecedented financial incentive package in Oregon have made 2008 the time to go solar.

However, there is a catch. Because most of the incentives are in the form of tax credits from the State and federal government, as a non-profit, the school is unable to take advantage of those tax credits. There are a couple of models non-profits are able to take advantage of to pursue these type of projects. One model would be where an investor would step in and own the solar system for 5-7 years (third party ownership model). The investor would be attracted to the project in order to take advantage of the state and federal tax credits associated with the project. After the tax credits have been taken, the investor can sell the system back to the school at its depreciated value or donate it back, and take a tax deduction. A second model would be for the project to sell the State’s Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) to an investor in exchange for cash that would be put towards project costs. This is also an attractive model but would not allow for the school to take advantage of the federal tax credit.

As we continue to pursue ways in which the school can have solar on its roof we are looking to the larger community to identify any interested individuals or businesses that may be interested in order to capture the projects tax credits. The school’s Solar Work Group would be happy to coordinate meetings with a local installer that has done a site assessment on the school's roofs with any interested parties to further identify investor interest and explain the above mentioned options.

If this project interests you or your business or you have contacts in your community that you think may be interested in learning more, we would very much like to hear from you. Please contact Lee Rahr at 503-318-8607 or We look forward to moving forward with this project and finding a partner who can help make this happen for the school.

For more information on the third party ownership model please visit: For more information on the State of Oregon’s Business Energy Tax Credit please visit:

Thank you for your interest,

Lee Rahr

Parent, Spanish K & 2nd

City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development


Kim Marcus

Parent, Spanish 2nd & 4th

TIS Board of Trustees, Vice President