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Will energy tax credits help Oregonians?

by: L.E. BASKOW, A snow plow creeps along Interstate 205 at the Northeast Sandy Boulevard interchange as a MAX train sits "out of service" during recent snowstorms. Letter writers offer advice for better operations of MAX.

It is not people who have jumped at the opportunity created by Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credits, but some of the largest national and international corporations (Tax breaks for wind energy costly, unnecessary, My View, Dec. 31). Corporations are not people.

We need to look at the BETC program to see if it is helping people - real blood and guts people - to jump into producing renewals, or whether it has helped corporations to do so. We need to empower the people of Oregon to invest in renewals and to benefit from doing so.

The BETCs have allowed large corporations to benefit from our tax dollars without having any obligation to provide a benefit to the citizens of Oregon. While I think state policy should encourage the production and use of renewable energy, it also has an obligation to benefit the Oregon people and our economy. When large corporations take our tax credits (dollars) to build wind farms for multi-national corporations who can sell the energy produced at a better price in California than they can in Oregon, then Oregon citizens lose the benefit of the tax dollars and end up paying higher utility prices to meet the California prices.

As an Oregonian, I don't want to use my tax dollars to produce high corporate profits for out-of-state corporations that sell the renewable energy product to utilities in other states. The energy produced does not meet the Renewable Portfolio Standards that Oregon has imposed on Oregon utilities.

BETCs are a big shell game. Our tax dollars go to out-of-state/out-of-country corporations. Those corporations produce big profits and renewable energy. The big profits get shipped out of state. And the renewable energy also goes out of the state because they are not required to sell the energy to Oregon utilities. These shells are moving fast, but I can tell that it is the Oregon taxpayer who is getting shelled.

David Delk

Alliance for Democracy, Portland Chapter

Northeast Portland

Renewable energy is catching on

I hope the governor's Renewable Energy Working Group will look at Kris Alman and Jody Wiser's opinion peice (Tax breaks for wind energy costly, unnecessary, My View, Dec. 31). It seems as though the Business Energy Tax Credits have not been thought through very well.

I myself have seen the German system of 'feed-in-tariffs' grow; in 2006, a house across the street from friends had one solar panel on it. When I returned in the fall of 2008, the whole southern part of the roof was covered with them. That kind of thing is happening all over. Let everyone benefit from what nature provides.

Gisela Ray

Gresham

TriMet's next 'lesson'? The Steel Bridge

The stats on ice and snow were available before the first rail was laid (TriMet to fix MAX freezing problems, Dec. 31). Even if the averages for snow and ice have declined dramatically in the past 40 years, the average is not zero.

Here's another scenario that will have TriMet solemnly mulling lessons learned after it happens: the whole system depends upon the Steel Bridge, an ancient structure that is already running at maximum capacity. Adding the Interstate 205 trains and then the Milwaukie trains will reduce the number of trains available for the existing routes. When this bridge finally breaks, we'll have another TriMet unforeseen emergency that we will have to pay for out of whatever money we have left after building a hotel and a stadium to help out our impoverished billionaires.

TriMet needs to run more - not fewer - trains and buses during inclement weather.

TriMet also needs to adopt a policy of honesty in dealing with the public, rather than to lure riders out to freeze for hours with false publications of arrival times and misinformation distributed by train and bus operators.

Daniel Enroth

Hillsboro

Unplowed lots discourages ridership

TriMet also needs to devote some resources to clearing parking lots for people who can get their cars to Park and Ride lots, but not to their work (TriMet to fix MAX freezing problems, Dec. 31). The parking lots were empty of cars during the recent storm, but full of snow. The entrances were impassable; my four-wheel-drive vehicle with chains got stuck going into one. Since I live in the country, walking to the MAX is impossible; not providing parking for folks who live a distance from the rail lines discourages ridership.

Having the line to Gresham closed from Ruby Junction east was absurd. I hope that is one of the priorities for the heated switches in the future.

Len Otto

Boring

EVs cleaner and more efficient

Erik Halstead's letter 'Electric cars still have 'tailpipes'' (Jan. 8), is so misleading I am astonished that the Tribune published it. In it, he argues that electric vehicles simply push emissions somewhere else.

First of all, electric cars are inherently more efficient and use less energy than comparable fuel-powered cars. Go to www

.fueleconomy.gov and you will see that the 2002 RAV4 EV - an electric sport utility vehicle offered briefly in California - was rated at the energy equivalent of 112 miles per gallon, five times more efficient than its gasoline counterpart. That also means one-fifth of the carbon emissions.

Furthermore, due to the inherent limitations of battery technology, electric vehicles tend to be smaller than conventional cars, making them less consumptive and polluting on average. The scaled-down vehicles featured in the original Sustainable Life story 'Electric cars: Around corner or stalled in driveway?' (Dec. 11) get the equivalent of more than 200 miles per gallon, making them nearly 8 times more efficient than the average car.

Finally, in terms of local and regional pollution, study after study has found that generating electricity at a single large source, even from fossil fuels, is far cleaner per unit of energy than burning it in thousands of small engines.

And that's per unit of energy consumed: once you consider that electric cars use 5 to 8 times less energy than gasoline cars, you can see that the amount of pollution generated is many, many times less.

Of course, those in the energy, automotive and auto repair industries - who all stand to lose if we start driving electric vehicles - don't want us to realize this.

Daniel Wright

Southeast Portland