SALEM, OR - Governor Ted Kulongoski is asking the leaders of two state agencies to take another look at what's called the Business Energy Tax Credit. The program has proven more costly than anticipated. Recent reports show that initial estimates drastically underestimated how many millions of dollars the state would wind up losing through tax incentives for renewable energy projects.
(Governor Ted Kulongoski, second from right, helps cut a ceremonial ribbon at the Sanyo plant in Salem)
SALEM - Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski joined officials from electronics giant Sanyo in Salem today (Monday) to help open a solar cell plant. It's the same place the governor visited a year ago to celebrate the plant's ground-breaking. A lot has changed since then, as Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.
Last fall, when Governor Kulongoski shoveled a ceremonial pile of dirt at the Sanyo facility in Salem, the state's unemployment rate stood at 7-point-2 percent. Almost exactly a year later, the Governor stood on the same ground to help cut a ceremonial ribbon, as production of solar cell components kicks off. Over that period Oregon's unemployment rate soared past 12 percent, and the state hemorrhaged 92-thousand jobs. Kulongoski said the 200 jobs this plant will provide are badly needed:
Gov. Ted Kulongoski: “In this difficult economic time, it is refreshing to have a positive story to tell.”
The Governor said the jobs come courtesy of the state's tax credit program for renewable energy companies. Critics point out it's costing the state millions of dollars of tax revenue. Kulongoski vetoed a legislative attempt to roll back the tax credit. I'm Chris Lehman in Salem.
SALEM - Oregon natural gas customers will pay less to heat their homes this winter. The Public Utility Commission today (Tuesday) announced a double-digit rate drop for each of the state's three natural gas utilities. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.
Natural gas prices often follow the same pricing trends as the kind of gas you put in your car. Remember how gasoline prices spiked a little over a year ago, and then plummeted? The same thing is happening for natural gas. Customers of Oregon's largest natural gas utility, Northwest Natural, will pay on average about 15 dollars less per month this winter. Oregon Public Utility Commission chair Lee Beyer says the news is bittersweet.
Lee Beyer: It's a good sign. The reason they're down is not necessarily so good. The reason things are down is that we've been in a worldwide recession so demand for gas is off.
Beyer also says new drilling technology has opened up access to more domestic natural gas fields. This winter's rates will be the lowest in Oregon in more than five years. I'm Chris Lehman in Salem.
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