State investigates Business Energy Tax Credit program

Audits will be made to a random pool of 12,000 tax credits distributed after 2007.

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The documentation gaps [Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins] cited are no secret and have been an issue for years within the department. The agency was overwhelmed by a tsunami of tax-credit applicants in the years after the Legislature super-sized its energy incentives, making them the most generous state subsidy for renewable energy and conservation projects in the country.

The Energy Department’s director, Michael Kaplan first suggested a comprehensive audit of the Business Energy Tax Credit files last March, according to emails released to the Oregonian/Oregon live in response to a public records request.

He did so after an investigation by The Oregonian/Oregonlive revealed that backers of a high-profile university solar project had submitted false and misleading documents to the Department in order to extend their eligibility for nearly $12 million in state tax credits. Department staffers failed to check the documents, and improperly extended the tax credits.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Atkins told Oregon Live the goal is to have results by August.

Scrutiny over the $1billion tax credits issued since 2007 has the legislature deciding the Energy Department’s fate.

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