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Oregon Over-incentifies Renewable Energy, Critics Say

wind farmRunning counter to Oregon’s incentify-it-and-they-will-come strategy for renewable energy, critics say that the state is literally and figuratively throwing money into the wind.

At the center of the argument is the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit, reports OregonLive. The tax credit, which encourages investment in alternative energy, recycling and energy conservation, is estimated to cost the state $168 million over the next two years, which is about $100 million more than it cost the state in the last two-year budget cycle. Such high figures have prompted state legislators to consider limiting the tax credit.

During the past eight years, the state incentive has drawn $300 million in applications. But critics say that the credit, which provides up to 50 percent of a project’s cost (up to $11 million, including cost overruns), is unnecessarily generous.

Oregon has the nation’s fifth-best renewable energy incentives, according to Ernst & Young.

Oregon has 812 megawatts worth of wind farms under proposal, and another 1,265 MW in the permitting process, according to a chart at OregonLive. There is already 1,585 MW worth of wind farm capacity in operation.

Oregon has said that its utilities must serve up 25 percent of their power via renewables by 2025.

Oregon has better wind resources than other Western states, so developers would come anyway, the critics say.

Yet evidence shows that incentives do matter. States with strong renewable energy portfolio standards or goals tend to outperform others when it comes to adding solar, wind, biomass and other emerging renewable energy forms, according to new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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