The Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit remains under intense scrutiny (see November NEEC News for story background). Press coverage has continued to focus on generous tax credits provided to large renewable generating projects and manufacturers and how the magnitude of those credits were significantly underestimated by state officials. A number of discussion forums and work groups have been formed in the state to discuss “solutions” to the BETC situation. The Business Energy Tax Credit was created decades ago to facilitate the implementation of good energy savings projects across the State of Oregon that would otherwise not occur without the availability of a tax credit. NEEC is very concerned that a problem created in association with real or perceived excesses in the tax credit program might endanger the long, successful, and non-controversial access that energy efficiency has to the BETC – and the benefits it has provided to Oregon businesses big and small across the state. To that end, NEEC has established a set of principles that it believes should help shape any changes to the BETC program. Those principles are;
1. BETC should continue to be available for qualifying energy efficiency projects.
2. Caps to the size and availability of the BETC should be constructed to ensure access to the credits for energy efficiency projects throughout a biennium.
3. If BETC tax credits should be redesigned, it is vital that the criteria for eligibility and the availability of credits should distinguish between costly large scale projects and smaller clean energy projects directly targeting end-use customers in communities across the state.
4. Energy efficiency projects in public facilities should continue to have access to the BETC.
NEEC is working with a variety of other like-minded business interests to help influence key decision-makers examining the BETC.