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The Oregon Department of Energy has filed temporary administrative rules for the business energy tax credit (BETC) program, which grants tax subsidies to renewable energy projects.

In August, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, D-Ore., directed the state's department of energy to conduct an economic analysis on renewable energy projects that qualify for the BETC. In his letter, the governor also directed the department to tighten the administrative rules that govern the BETC.

According to a report in The Oregonian, the tax credits came under fire during this year's legislative session for skyrocketing costs at a time when lawmakers had to make cuts to schools and state services. Lawmakers are expected to renew their effort to reduce the subsidies when they return for a special session in February.

The new rules involve changes to issues of multiple applications, project cost overruns, taxes owed to the state, enhanced accountability for jobs created and other topics. The new rules will affect all tax-credit applications that have not been issued a pre-certification letter on or after Nov. 3.

The rule changes are designed to eliminate the practice of multiple applications for the same or similar projects; establish new criteria for project eligibility; enhance the ability to revoke, suspend and/or condition applications; and establish new criteria for performance standards.

"These changes will keep the BETC program viable and flexible," says Mark Long, director of Oregon's department of energy. "We want to preserve the program to use it as a tool in the toolbox to go after the right opportunities. These emergency rules are designed to ensure that applicants are obeying state laws, that applicants are delivering on commitments made to the state of Oregon, to slow the growth of the BETC program and to reduce the General Fund impact."

Since these are temporary emergency rules, they are effective for 180 days, ending May 1, 2010. A notice for permanent rulemaking will be filed on Nov. 13, with an anticipated public rulemaking hearing on March 30, 2010 and the filing of permanent rules on April 29, 2010.

SOURCE: Oregon Department of Energy, The Oregonian

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