Editorial: State doesn’t follow the rules on solar

Published Dec 28, 2013 at 12:01AM

The Oregon’s Business Energy Tax Credit program is a zombie.

The Legislature killed it in 2010, and it’s still not dead.

Remember the hope for a 160-acre field of solar panels in Christmas Valley?

A dentist from Washington state hoped to build it. It would have been a $50 million project. There would be 133,000 solar panels. The areas’s lack of rain and sunny skies could mean 6.7 megawatts of power. The Oregonian recently examined what happened.

Oregon’s Energy Department backed the project in 2009 with a $10 million tax credit — if the project was built in three years.

The project was never built.

Some 180 solar panels were put up. They were taken down.

They never sent any electricity into the grid.

The Energy Department staff never visited the site.

But they kept hitting renew on the project’s eligibility for the tax credit.

They say the project showed signs of construction before the Legislature’s deadline of April 15, 2011.

So now, even though what may be built there will not be done by the same company and may not be the same kind of solar project, the department says it is still eligible.

Lynn Frank, a former director of Oregon’s Energy Department told The Oregonian, that is not how the rules say the program is supposed to work.

It’s like there are no rules, except: Whatever is possibly green goes.

That’s no way to manage the state’s taxpayer dollars, even if you believe in renewable energy.