Advisory Report on the Business Energy Tax Credit Program

SALEM, OR — Today, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson released an advisory report summarizing the lessons learned from the Business Energy Tax Credit program, otherwise known as BETC.

BETC was established to incentivize the pursuit of energy efficiency among Oregon businesses. The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) was charged with its management. However, rapid escalation of the program in the 2000s exceeded the agency’s capacity to manage it. BETC was terminated in 2014, with the subsequent criminal prosecution and conviction of two individuals who pled guilty to fraudulent activities.

In the years since, the BETC program has been subjected to multiple reviews and examinations, including a hotline investigation by the Secretary of State’s Audits Division and a privately contracted investigative report by the Portland firm Marsh Minick P.C. These reviews have resulted in dozens of recommendations being proffered to ODOE to address current and future incentive program challenges and risks. 

Even with the seriousness of the investigation, convictions, and review findings, there has been no comprehensive, formal effort to follow-up on or report the status of the recommendations. This Secretary of State advisory report, conducted in collaboration with ODOE, seeks to provide such an update.

This report includes a history of the BETC program and a progress update from ODOE detailing the agency’s efforts in response to recommendations made in previous reviews. It also includes a summary of lessons learned that may be applied to future tax incentive programs. The intent is to provide information to be used to mitigate risks and maximize positive outcomes for these programs.

“One of the main reasons I ran for Secretary of State was to shine a bright light on initiatives like BETC,” said Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. “This advisory report, which took significantly fewer resources than a full audit, reminds taxpayers that this office is holding government officials accountable for wasteful failures like BETC, and it shows state agencies can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

Advisory reports are a recent initiative created by the Secretary of State Audits Division. The reports are not audits but rather time-critical reviews, assessments, and evaluations designed to provide information to the public. While not audits, they do follow the same rigorous quality assurance process used in every audit report. 

Read the advisory report on the Secretary of State website.