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Editorial: Stop the wind power mischief

When you create a special committee to find a way to invest in something and it tells you to scrap the idea, a wise woman takes the committee’s advice. That, apparently, is what Gov. Kate Brown has decided to do with recommendations by her WindFloat Pacific Offshore Wind Advisory Committee.

She will not force Oregon electricity users to purchase, through their utility companies, power that’s four times as expensive.

Brown announced the creation of the wind committee last summer to “identify viable pathways to procure the WindFloat Project in Oregon,” according to her website. Her office said initially the group’s meetings would be secret. She appointed members, including at least one conservative Democrat, Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, utility company representatives and an official from the state’s Citizens’ Utility Board.

That secrecy decision was, wisely, changed before meetings were held. But while there were “public” meetings, their locations were not made public.

There apparently were other shenanigans, as well. Johnson and at least one other committee member say the draft of their final report contained recommendations the committee never discussed. A press secretary for Brown explained the ideas “were briefly raised by some committee members.”

Those recommendations disappeared before the final report.

WindFloat is the baby of Seattle’s Principle Power. It hopes to build a wind farm off the Oregon Coast. It may not be able to proceed unless Oregon ratepayers are required to purchase its power. Last year, Oregon lawmakers declined to force PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric to buy the power. Now the governor’s office will follow suit.

Despite all of the mischief, Brown came to the right conclusion. Oregonians should not be saddled with higher electric bills as part of this experiment. Oregonians should also not be saddled with mischief by their government.