Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BETC in Peril

Below is a call to arms by Glenn Montgomery, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA). He urges all of us to contact our state legislators and forcefully lobby for continuation of strong public investment in the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) and Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC). The programs are in peril of being drastically reduced and effectively terminated.

BETC has enabled Oregon’s “green economy” to flourish. The tax credit—worth up to 35 percent of the incremental costs of the systems or equipment that are beyond standard practice—has incentivized an impressive range of renewable resource and energy conservation projects. These projects have been good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for the health of Oregon communities.

The proposed reductions on the table risk turning back the clock and erasing the gains made by Oregon’s still nascent private investment in sustainability. The penurious cutbacks would be a radical change in course leading to disastrous results. Read on:

I am typically not an alarmist, but we have a crisis on our hands for both renewable energy and conservation projects in Oregon. Though still work in progress, the co-chairs' state budget for the 2011-13 biennium includes $10 million for ALL tax credit programs, and word has it that it breaks down as follows:
  • Biomass collector credit: $4 million
  • Film & Video: $3 milllion
  • Business Energy Tax Credit (renewables & conservation, not manufacturing): $2 million
  • Residential Energy Tax Credit (renewables & conservation): $1 million
To put this into perspective:
  • BETC for renewables alone (2009-11 biennium): $300 million
  • BETC for renewables and conservation (2011-13 biennium): $2 million
  • RETC expenditures ('09 and '10): $34 million (solar accounted for $7 million last year alone)
  • RETC budget (2011-13 biennium): $1 million
Given the current budget proposal, the RETC will be gone by July of this year, and we'll have nothing for the next 23 months. The BETC faces the same fate—one project could account for the proposed allocation. How will ODOE even begin to pick winners and losers?

The potential impact on both businesses and residents is staggering. It's unconscionable, in my mind, to effectively shut down public support for renewable energy production and conservation across the state at a time when our economy is in recovery and extremely fragile. Adding insult to injury, the Film & Video program budget, though small in relative terms, has been doubled in the current budget. Does our leadership care more about attracting non-local companies to the state for 60 days to make a few movies than it does the residents and businesses that work, pay taxes, and support their local economies year-round?

The time to act is NOW! Make your voice heard. There are several things that come to mind:
  • Join us for the solar rally scheduled Wednesday June 1, 2011 at 11:30 on the Capitol steps (we'll also be in the Galleria all day)
  • Contact your state legislators by writing a letter and following up with a phone call
  • Contact the Governor's office, share your story, and express your dismay that leadership is turning its back on Oregon's green economy
  • Keep current by following OSEIA on Twitter and "Liking" our Facebook page
  • Join OSEIA! Your financial support and personal engagement creates a stronger voice for the solar industry in Oregon.
I will have a sample letter available on OSEIA's website in the next day, so feel free to use it as a guide in telling your story. In addition, I'll provide further details on the rally that is a little more than one week away. You can become a "Friend" on the Go Solar Oregon Facebook page by clicking here.

Please forward this note to your network of colleagues and friends.

Thank you for your support!

My best,

Glenn Montgomery, OSEIA Executive Director

1 comment:

Irene Gilbert said...

It will be wonderful for wildlife, viewscapes, property values and employment in jobs related to having living birds, bats, big game, etc if these tax credits go away. Thank heaven the wind farms may not be able to do to other areas in Oregon what they have done to the Columbia Gorge!!!!