Gov. Brown encourages investigation into use of energy tax credits

Installation of solar panels at Oregon State University and Oregon Institute of Technology connected to possible fraud.

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Gov. Kate Brown is encouraging a state investigation into a possible fraudulent use of tax credits.

The Portland Tribune reports that a $12 million solar panel project at Oregon State University and Oregon Institute of Technology is the center of the upcoming investigation:

The investigation would be conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice.

The matter came up during a briefing last week by Michael Kaplan, director of the Oregon Department of Energy, with the governor’s staff.

Kristen Grainger, Gov. Brown’s chief spokeswoman, says in a statement: “As part of their regular briefings with the Governor’s Office, Department of Energy staff shared this situation and their plan to talk with the Department of Justice about pursuing an investigation, which the Governor’s Office agreed was appropriate to do and encouraged them to go ahead.” published a story on possible malfeasance:

The $11.8  million in tax credits represent half the $23.5 million cost of the installations, which are owned by a series of limited liability companies set up by the project developer, SolarCity of San Mateo, Calif. The documents in question purport to demonstrate that the six solar arrays were under construction prior to April 15, 2011, and thus met the state’s deadline to qualify for an extension to finish construction and gain the lucrative tax credits.

One document submitted to the state was an invoice from a subcontractor on the project, dated Feb. 25, 2011, that detailed construction expenditures on each of the solar arrays before the state cutoff date. An investigation by the Oregonian/OregonLive found that the company charging for the work didn’t exist. Another was a December 2011 letter from the chief executive of the projects’ original developer, Utah-based Renewable Energy Development Corp., known as Redco. The letter reported $210,000 had been spent towards the project and that construction was progressing.

Redco went into bankruptcy at the end of 2011.