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 22

The Oregonian reports:

Five Pacific Ethanol subsidiaries, including one that operates the company’s 40-million-gallon Boardman plant, filed for bankruptcy this week, though company officials vowed to keep the Boardman plant operating.

The move by the Sacramento-based company means that both of Oregon’s major ethanol plants, recruited through state tax breaks for alternative fuel producers and Oregon’s 10 percent ethanol content mandate, are now seeking Chapter 11 reorganizations in bankruptcy court.

And Oregon’s Green Governor, Ted Kulongoski, is now luring wind, solar, and electric car manufacturers to Oregon with similar tax breaks.

Cascade Grain, which briefly operated a plant with a 100-million-gallon annual capacity in Clatskanie, filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

Pacific Ethanol’s Boardman plant is the only one of its four corn ethanol plants still operating. The other three plants — two in California and one in Idaho — are in “cold shut down” with no current business operations, the company said.

The ethanol industry rushed to expand capacity in recent years, encouraged by federal ethanol content requirements and government subsidies. Pacific Ethanol built three plants in 2007 and 2008, opening the Boardman plant in September 2007 near train tracks ideal for hauling in Midwest corn.

Then the economy plunged, drying up capital and driving down prices for petroleum gasoline. Lower gasoline prices reduced the price refineries would pay for ethanol. That dramatically narrowed the spread between ethanol prices and volatile corn prices, prompting ethanol plant closures nationwide.

The company says increasing demand for low-carbon fuels will help it recover. The federal government is calling for more ethanol use in coming years and California is proposing a low-carbon fuel standard that may boost demand for biofuels if manufacturers can prove greenhouse gas reductions.

So, the state mandates weren’t enough to make this company profitable, but they’re pretty sure federally mandated “demand” will be their savior. Can government mandated fuel really be called “demand”.  I suppose it could, in a 1984 kind of way.

Pacific Ethanol is asking the bankruptcy court to endorse $20 million in new loans, saying it will allow the company to make payroll and maintain relationships with vendors, suppliers and customers.

The move drew protests this week from some lenders, who said they were skeptical that continuing to operate “a money losing plant” will increase the value of underlying collateral.

But Kevin Gross, a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Delaware, approved an initial loan of $7 million this week, scheduling a hearing in June to discuss the rest of the proposed loan package.

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