United States

United States

Wind wire: New tax rules

New rules aimed at limiting Oregon's lucrative Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) are giving state energy officials more power to reign in a popular programme that subsidises wind farms and other renewable energy projects.

BETC, which allows for 50% in tax write-offs on projects totalling less than $20 million, has come under scrutiny for skyrocketing costs and lack of accountability. According to newspaper The Oregonian, 97% of BETC applicants have been granted credits, while cost of the subsidies has jumped from $10 million in 2007 to an estimated $167 million expected between 2009 and 2011. The Oregonian also maintains that developers have been able to split large single projects into several small parts and claim multiple credits. The new rules allow the state to reject such applications. The alterations, effective immediately, are not retrospective and, although temporary, state legislators could make them permanent next year. Earlier this year a bill to limit BETC passed both houses but was vetoed by Governor Ted Kulongoski, a strong proponent of renewables. "Everybody knows that there will be changes to BETC," says Rachel Shimshak, director of Renewable Northwest Project, a regional not-for-profit organisation. "But we hope it continues at a level that will attract companies, development and manufacturing to the state.

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