Sen. Alan Olsen calls for action on Department of Energy audit

Sen Alan Olsen_thb

by Sen. Alan Olsen

Salem, Ore. Last week, the Joint Interim Committee on Department of Energy Oversight discussed a recent audit of the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) program.

The first independent audit of the ODOE Business Energy Tax Credit program, released Sept. 7, uncovered concerns with nearly $350 million in tax credits, or over one third of the $1 billion program.

“Despite repeated calls for an independent investigation of ODOE’s Business Energy Tax Credit program, our cries largely went unanswered,” explained Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby). “In fact, Michael Kaplan himself – the director of ODOE – responded to this recent audit by saying that the number of concerning tax credits has likely been underestimated in this recent report. The Secretary of State and Governor Brown’s administration should aggressively pursue any fraud in the BETC program that would likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars.”

The independent audit, conducted by financial crimes consultant Marsh Minick, found systemic problems in how ODOE managed the BETC program, including direct conflicts of interest, numerous failed projects, missing or suspicious cost documents, problems with tax credit brokers and incompetent staff and leaders. Despite discussion in the Joint Committee, the audit has yet to inspire serious action concerning ODOE by the legislature or Governor Brown’s administration.

“After six years of scandal, we finally have an outside opinion that confirms what we already knew: the BETC program is full of waste and likely fraud and will cost taxpayers money,” said Olsen. “If we don’t start taking systemic issues of fraud and mismanagement at state agencies seriously, taxpayers will pay a high price for failed programs and wasted funds.”

Senator Alan Olsen is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 20 – Canby