By Jeff Alan
Green and red are the Christmas colors. It’s just like Christmas for hundreds of Oregon businesses looking to cash in on “green energy” tax credits. Oregon’s Business Energy Tax Credit is designed to encourage companies to initiate “renewable” and “alternative” energy projects. Two days before the Oregon Legislative Session adjourned in June, legislators passed a bill to dramatically expand the Business Energy Tax Credit, doubling the cap for qualifying business projects to $20 million.
The sheer number of corporate requests for “green” project subsidies has overwhelmed Oregon’s Department of Energy. With applications expected to top 4,000 this year alone, Oregon stands to lose millions of dollars of tax revenue, causing “green energy” subsidies to result in red ink for the state’s general fund.
The problem with the Business Energy Tax Credit is that it puts the legislature in the position of picking winners and losers in the economy, subsidizing narrowly specific “green energy” projects that may not be either profitable or sustainable on their own merits. If business tax credits are so popular, then why not eliminate the corporate income tax entirely? That way, every business would retain more of its earnings to invest in truly marketable projects, which would be good for employees, shareholders, consumers and the environment.
Jeff Alan is Chief Investigator at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market research center.