Governor urges state DOJ to probe $12M solar tax credit

Source: By Sickinger/Manning, Portland Oregonian • Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is asking the state Department of Justice to investigate a $12 million tax credit awarded to the Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University for six solar arrays.

That project has come into question thanks to an investigation by The Oregonian that found the state’s Department of Energy had relied on potentially phony documents when it approved the $11.8 million in tax credits in 2012. The tax credits amounted to half of the total cost of the project, which is owned by a series of limited liability companies.

The newspaper’s investigation found inconsistencies in documents supposedly demonstrating that construction had begun on the series of six solar arrays prior to the state’s April 15, 2011, deadline for projects to be eligible for tax credits.

One document submitted was an invoice from a subcontractor dated Feb. 25, 2011, detailing project spending prior to the deadline, but The Oregonian found that the company that had purportedly sent the invoice did not exist. Another document detailing expenditures before the state deadline was from the head of a Utah-based company that went bankrupt in December 2011. Its former chief executive, Ryan Davies, told The Oregonianthat there had been no construction on the projects prior to April 15, 2011.

Oregon DOE Director Michael Kaplan had already requested that Oregon DOJ’s Criminal Investigation Division look into the tax credits when The Oregonian‘s article was published last week.

A spokeswoman for the state Justice Department said the agency does not comment on criminal investigations and would not say whether an investigation had been opened following Kaplan’s initial request.