September 10, 2013
Blogs, Oregon

Revenue committees holding joint session on Sheperds Flat tax credits

Posted September 9th, 2013 by Anna Staver | Oregon Capitol Watch |

The House Revenue Committee and the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee will hold a joint hearing Sept 17 examine whether the Shepherds Flat wind farm deserved three separate tax credits worth $30 million.

“We try to meet jointly when there is a major issue,” Finance and Revenue Chair Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said. “This is a major issue that we all need to be up to speed on.”

The hearing will take place at either 8 or 8:30 a.m.

Oregon’s Department of Energy approved the three Business Energy Tax Credits for what New York-based Caithness Energy and General Electric called three separate wind farms in Eastern Oregon. Each BETC was worth $10 million.

The problem for lawmakers started after an investigation by The Oregonian showed the three farms appeared to operate as a single facility meaning it was eligible for only one credit worth $10 million.

The farms are located next to each other, were built together and share operations and maintenance. According to The Oregonian, that means it met five out seven state criteria to be classified as one facility. A project meeting three or more criteria is only eligible for one credit.

“We want to find out if things were done appropriately and if not, what we can do to keep it from happening in the future because there is still a lot of backlog of BETC credits,” Burdick said.

The push to hold the hearing together during Legislative Days was spearheaded by Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, who also brought the Sheperds Flat project to the committees’ attention.

“We will be looking at it very intensely and critically. That’s what I’m expecting from these hearing,” Conger said. “There’s a problem in our system of approving these tax credits that allowed multiple tax credits to be approved where only one should have been. At a minimum that’s a waste of money.”

Conger added that, “We cannot afford to waste $20 million under any circumstances but particularly situations where there may not have been adequate oversight.

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