Nov 01

Investigation by The Oregonian reveals state officials deliberately low-balled the cost of green subsidies; program ended up costing 40 times more than unsuspecting lawmakers were told

By Editor Gov. Kulongoski, green jobs, The Oregonian Comments Off on Investigation by The Oregonian reveals state officials deliberately low-balled the cost of green subsidies; program ended up costing 40 times more than unsuspecting lawmakers were told

Harry Esteve of The Oregonian reports:

State officials deliberately underestimated the cost of Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s plan to lure green energy companies to Oregon with big taxpayer subsidies, resulting in a program that cost 40 times more than unsuspecting lawmakers were told, an investigation by The Oregonian shows.

Records also show that the program, a favorite of Kulongoski’s known as the Business Energy Tax Credit, has given millions of dollars to failed companies while voters are being asked to raise income taxes because the state budget doesn’t have enough to pay for schools and other programs.

The incentives are now under intense scrutiny at the Oregon Department of Energy, which is scrambling to curb their skyrocketing costs.

What’s the Business Energy Tax Credit?

A renewable energy company can receive a credit on its Oregon taxes worth half the cost of building a new facility, up to a limit of $10 million, or $20 million for solar manufacturers.

The credits are better than tax deductions — $1 of tax credit means $1 less paid in taxes. If a company has little or no tax liability, the credits can be sold at a discount to another Oregon taxpayer.

Energy officials were worried about the impact on the state budget in 2006, when Kulongoski and his staff proposed a dramatic boost in tax breaks to woo wind and solar companies to Oregon — upping the subsidies from a high of $3.5 million per project to as much as $20 million.

According to documents obtained under Oregon’s public records law, agency officials estimated in a Nov. 16, 2006, spreadsheet that expanding the tax credits would cost taxpayers an additional $13 million in 2007-09. But after a series of scratch-outs and scribbled notes, a new spreadsheet pared the cost to $1.8 million. And when energy officials handed their final estimate to the Legislature in February 2007, they pegged the added cost at just $1.2 million for the first two years and $4.1 million for 2009-11.

The higher estimates were never shown to lawmakers. Current and former energy staffers acknowledged a clear attempt to minimize the cost of the subsidies.

“I remember that discussion. Everyone was saying, yes, this is going to be a huge (budget) hit,” recalled Charles Stephens, a former analyst for the Energy Department who left in 2006. “The governor’s office was saying, ‘No, we need a smaller number.'”

Dave Barker, an analyst who is still with the agency, told The Oregonian that the initial cost estimates started high but got lower after he was told by his superiors to plug in smaller figures.

“What I would hear pretty consistently was, ‘We want to keep it conservative,'” Barker said.

The official estimates turned out to be absurdly low. In 2007-09, the business tax credit cost the state $68 million, of which about $40 million can be attributed to the bigger subsidies. The latest estimate for 2009-11 puts the tab for subsidies at $167 million in lost revenue, which is projected to grow to $243 million for 2011-13 — about what Oregon spends now from its general fund on the entire state police budget.

Is this about a sincere and urgent need to “save the planet”? Or to lower the earth’s temperature a fraction of a degree? Heck no, it’s just part of Gov. Kulongoski’s selfish and opportunistic effort to build his green legacy:

The program has become the centerpiece of Kulongoski’s legacy-making effort to turn Oregon into a center for environmentally friendly industry.

Read it all at The Oregonian.

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Jun 12

Not green enough? Oregon’s Prius (hybrid) tax credit could go as of Jan. 1, but the state will still issue tax credits for cars that are 41% coal-powered

By Editor coal, Electric cars, Gov. Kulongoski, hybrids Comments Off on Not green enough? Oregon’s Prius (hybrid) tax credit could go as of Jan. 1, but the state will still issue tax credits for cars that are 41% coal-powered

The Oregonian reports:

SALEM — Oregon’s tax credit for that new Prius or other gas-electric hybrid vehicles could disappear on January 1, if a bill that passed the House Thursday becomes law.

Individual consumers and businesses who buy plug-in or all-electric cars would still qualify for a state tax credit. And House Bill 2180 would bring new incentives for companies that manufacture electric vehicles.

The bill must still make its way through the Senate. But it is a priority for Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has promoted Oregon to electric car companies, including Nissan and Think, as a place to consider for a manufacturing site. Both companies have plans to test market their cars in Portland.

Oregon ranks among the top hybrid-car states per capita and Portland has ranked at the U.S. Prius sales capital.

Apparently, the hybrids just aren’t green enough for the Green Governor. And the plug-in electric cars are? Here in Oregon, 41% of our electricity is generated by coal.  So the plug-in electric cars that will still qualify for the Oregon tax credit will truly be 41% powered by coal.  I’m not sure the Green Governor really gives a damn about that pesky detail, as he’s likely more concerned about perception than reality.

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May 11

Irony: Oregon green governor’s subsidized flights to Oregon Coast averaging 1.65 passengers per flight

By Editor Carbon footprint, Gov. Kulongoski Comments Off on Irony: Oregon green governor’s subsidized flights to Oregon Coast averaging 1.65 passengers per flight

The Oregonian reports on a huge waste of taxpayer money, but fails to ask what the carbon footprint is:

Last summer, as economic tides ebbed, a long-awaited wish came true for small communities on the Oregon coast.

The state awarded millions of dollars to kick-start commercial air service to Newport and Astoria, linking them to Portland International Airport for the first time in a decade.

Powered by $4.5 million in state and federal subsidies, the thinking went, passenger planes would bring tourism and business to places in need of an economic jolt. The 30-minute flights — up to three times daily — would free residents from driving hours to PDX.

Less than two months after the service’s March 15 launch, the high hopes of some local leaders and residents have dissipated in a travel-curbing economy. In the service’s first six weeks, each nine-seater aircraft between PDX and the two coastal towns has carried an average of 1.65 passengers, requiring a state subsidy of about $750 a flight, which lets passengers pay as little as $49.

And yes, The Oregonian does point out that this is  Green Governor Ted Kulongoski’s baby:

In July 2008, Kulongoski formed an air coalition and charged the Department of Aviation with helping to restore commercial air service to Oregon’s small towns.

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Jan 08

Solar-cell maker (an Intel spin-off) halts construction plans for new plant

By Editor Gov. Kulongoski, solar power Comments Off on Solar-cell maker (an Intel spin-off) halts construction plans for new plant

An exerpt from The Oregonian:

SpectraWatt Inc., an Intel spinoff that planned to make solar cells in Hillsboro, may leave Oregon because it can’t find financing to build a plant.

Andrew Wilson, SpectraWatt’s chief executive, confirmed Wednesday that the company had suspended construction plans and was searching inside and outside the state for an existing building to retrofit for less money.


The development surprised Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s aides and state economic development officials, who had been negotiating tax breaks for the plant. “Have them call us,” said Jillian Schoene, a spokeswoman for Kulongoski, who is trying to attract more renewable-energy manufacturers to the state.

The setback could spell broader trouble for the governor’s green initiative. Or it could merely reveal one solar startup with unproven technology encountering obstacles and playing off Oregon against, say, New York.

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Oct 28

The Oregonian admits that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski will "undoubtedly will catch flak" from anthropogenic global warming skeptics

By Editor Gov. Kulongoski, The Oregonian Comments Off on The Oregonian admits that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski will "undoubtedly will catch flak" from anthropogenic global warming skeptics

This is definitely progress for we skeptics. That The Oregonian is even acknowledging skeptics is indeed progress.

The Oregonian reported this morning that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (D), released his “green” wish-list for Oregon yesterday:

“Climate change is the most important environmental and economic issue of our time,” Kulongoski said as he laid out a long list of tax incentives, new rules and ambitious goals he wants the 2009 Legislature to adopt.

The list included:

  • Cap and trade
  • A goal that all new homes and commercial buildings emit no carbon by 2030
  • Kill a $1,500 tax credit for hybrid cars, and enact a $5,000 tax credit for plug-in electric hybrids and all-electric cars
  • A goal to reduce the number of miles people drive in cars
  • Incentives to encourage people to take alternative transportation

Kulongoski should just acknowledge that this scheme is more about ego and legacy building than it is a serious attempt to reduce the temperature a certain fraction of a degree.

The Oregonian then acknowledged the skeptics:

The governor undoubtedly will catch flak from critics who say global warming is not the threat it’s been made to be, or that it’s a natural part of historic climate shifts. But it’s clear that Kulongoski has pinned his legacy hopes on the broad issue of climate change, which he called “a settled issue.”

GORE LIED has noted a subtle shift in The Oregonian’s reporting of AGW before – here and here.

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