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Business Energy Tax Credit

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The Business Energy Tax Credit, widely known as BETC and pronounced "Betsy," is an Oregon state program that has given financial incentives to businesses, nonprofits and government agencies for reducing their energy use. Most of the transportation-related benefits, however, are phasing out in December.

Portland employers that subsidize TriMet passes, for example, could reduce their future tax liability by 35% of the cost of the program. BETC credits also paid for TriMet's share of the YouthPass program, which gave free passes to Portland Public high schoolers, and they reduced the City of Portland's cost for every bike staple it installs.

BETC eligibility for these programs, among many others, were on track to expire at the end of 2011.


[edit] Employers claiming BETC for transit benefits

Because of the paperwork required to receive a BETC credit, many small employers do not bother to claim it. For large employers, however, the savings are substantial: $632,806, for example, at The Standard, the insurance company headquartered in downtown Portland. According to a May 2011 record provided by the Oregon Department of Energy, these companies received BETC credit for their TriMet pass benefits in recent years. Click the arrows atop a column to sort by that column:

Name City Precert Date Final Date One-year tax credit amount
Standard Insurance Company Portland 1/26/09 11/2/10 $632,806
Providence Health System - Oregon Portland 12/3/09 Pending $478,694
Multnomah County Portland 7/16/10 Pending $422,415
Multnomah County / Shell Funk Portland 4/10/09 9/15/10 $377,785
Lloyd Transportation Managment Assoc. (TMA) Portland 11/6/09 Pending $291,930
Lloyd Transportation Management Association (TMA) Portland 1/16/09 10/19/10 $267,003
City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Portland 12/28/09 Pending $138,250
Legacy Health System Portland 10/21/08 3/17/10 $135,378
PacifiCorp Portland 9/9/10 12/23/10 $128,575
PacifiCorp Portland 10/9/09 1/26/10 $122,489
Nike, Inc Beaverton 7/24/09 1/24/11 $120,741
Harland Financial Solutions, Inc. Portland 9/9/10 1/24/11 $51,655
Lloyd Business Improvement District Portland 1/16/09 4/29/10 $51,042
Stoel Rives LLP Portland 10/6/09 2/17/10 $49,928
Colubmia Sportswear Company Portland 10/15/09 1/20/11 $43,538
Port of Portland Portland 10/21/08 10/19/10 $36,020
Lloyd Business Improvement Dist (BID) Portland 11/6/09 Pending $35,000
SERA Architects Portland 4/29/09 1/31/11 $17,422
Mulvanny G2 Architecture Portland 10/15/09 10/22/10 $14,186
Terwilliger Plaza, Inc Portland 9/9/10 Pending $12,136
Tonkon Torp LLP Portland 1/27/10 4/28/11 $11,409
SAIF Corporation Portland 5/5/10 Pending $10,814
City of Portland Bureau of Transportation System Portland 10/19/09 Pending $8,857
SRG Partnership, Inc Portland 9/9/10 11/24/10 $8,616
Vernier Software & Technology LLC Beaverton 9/9/10 12/23/10 $7,336
Evraz Inc. NA Portland 10/6/09 10/4/10 $6,903
Swan Island Transportation Mananagement Assoc. Portland 2/4/09 Pending $6,217
Harsch Investment Corp Portland 12/18/09 3/3/11 $6,032
Transcore Commercial Services LLC Beaverton 8/11/10 1/24/11 $5,187
Paulson Investment Co Portland 1/26/09 1/6/10 $5,125
GBJ Architecture, P.C. Portland 10/6/09 12/10/09 $4,710
Dr. Martens Air Wair USA Portland 10/9/09 6/11/10 $4,165
Paulson Investment Co., Inc Portland 1/27/10 2/25/11 $4,106
Red Shield Insurance Company Portland 1/27/10 1/20/11 $3,711
Pop Art, Inc. Portland 2/10/09 6/9/10 $3,150
Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Inc Portland 9/4/10 11/2/10 $2,897
POP Art, Inc Portland 1/6/10 1/24/11 $2,712
Integral Consulting Inc. Portland 10/15/09 12/10/09 $2,662
Melvin Mark Brokerage Company Portland 9/9/10 12/23/10 $2,569
Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Inc Portland 10/6/09 10/29/09 $2,517
Melvin Mark Companies Portland 10/6/09 10/29/09 $2,380
General Tool & Supply Company Portland 1/20/09 2/23/09 $2,177
Pacific Northwest College of Art Portland 10/19/09 2/9/10 $1,575
Keelson Partners, Inc Portland 9/9/10 12/10/10 $1,287
Keelson Partners, Inc Portland 12/18/09 2/5/10 $1,180
Integral Consulting, Inc. Portland 5/15/09 7/20/09 $1,168
Forest Dental Products, Inc Hillsboro 4/6/09 2/12/10 $1,164
Eli Alford-Jones Portland 9/28/10 12/10/10 $983
Bradley M. Marten Portland 9/9/10 4/21/11 $644
Clean Copy, Inc, Portland 9/4/10 11/2/10 $641
Beth Allen Law PC Portland 8/3/10 11/12/10 $568
Gango Editions Portland 7/21/10 11/5/10 $359
World Affairs Council of Oregon Portland 10/2/09 5/4/11 $253
World Affairs Council of Oregon Portland 10/1/10
Vigor Industrial LLC Portland 4/6/09
Thetus Corporation Portland 8/3/10
Stahancyk, Kent, Johnson & Hook, PC Portland 3/5/10
SOO Portland State University Transportation & Par Portland 10/27/09
SOO Oregon Health & Science University Portland 9/9/10
Solar World Industries Services, Inc. Hillsboro 10/28/08
Serena Software, Inc. Hillsboro 11/26/08
SERA Arcitects Portland 2/16/10
Seattle-Northwest Securities Corporation Portland 5/5/10
SAIF Corporation Portland/Salem 3/31/11
Sagacity Media, Inc Portland 8/16/10
RR Donnelley Portland 11/10/08
Rejuvenation, Inc. Portland 10/6/09
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon Portland 6/4/10
R2C Group (Respond 2 Commmunications Inc.) Portland 3/31/09
PTI Global Beaverton 9/9/10
Portland Community College Portland 10/1/10
Port of Portland Portland 8/11/10
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy Portland 8/11/10
Parametrix, Inc Portland 10/8/10
Oregon Health & Science University Portland 11/6/09
Nike, Inc Beaverton 7/12/10
Multnomah County School District No. 1J Portland 10/28/08
Lloyd Transportation Management Association Portland 11/5/10
Lloyd BID, Inc. Portland 10/1/10
Legacy Health System Portland 7/21/10
Intel Corporation Portland 3/6/09
Harsch Investment Corp. Portland 7/12/10
Forest Dental Products Inc Hillsboro 2/8/10
Evraz Inc. NA Portland 9/28/10
Edward W. Sager, CPA PC Portland 11/5/08
D.W. Block Associates, LLC Portland 9/9/10
D. W. Block Associates LLC Portland 2/8/10
Cummins Northwest, LLC Portland 1/26/09
Con-way Inc., Calso Menlo Logistics & Con-way Ent. Portland 11/26/08
Columbia Sportswear Company Portland 9/28/10
Cogan Owens Cogan LLC Portland 6/4/10
City of Portland - Bureau of Transportation Portland 10/1/10
Brian Fleener Portland 9/9/10
Beery Elsner & Hammond, LLP. Portland 5/10/11
Bamboo Sushi, LLC / Kristofor Lofgren Portland 2/8/10
Avatron Software, Inc. Portland 3/5/10
Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects, Inc Portland 1/27/10
Aivea Beaverton 11/5/08

Some companies on the list claimed credits for multiple years or separate projects, and are listed more than once. Other compaines applied for BETC, but had not been approved, and did not yet have dollar figures on record.

[edit] How BETC works

[edit] For for-profit businesses

A for-profit business that completes a qualified transportation project can deduct up to 35 percent of the project's cost from its state business tax liability.

Among the qualified projects are measures to reduce car trips such as bicycle facilities and transit passes for employees.

[edit] For nonprofits and governments

When a nonprofit or government agency creates an energy-saving program, it can recover some of its costs by finding a private "pass-through partner" such as a bank or other for-profit company.

This is how it works for transportation projects: The private company gives a lump sum of cash to the nonprofit or agency: 25.5 percent of the cost of the energy-saving program. Over the following five years, the private company can reduce its state taxes by up to 35 percent of the cost of the program.

In the case of YouthPass, whose 2009 pass-through partner is Portland-based mobile company Consumer Cellular, the program costs $10 million annually. Consumer Cellular gives TriMet $2.55 million to help buy free transit passes for high school students. Consumer Cellular then gets a $3.5 million tax break, spread over the next five years.

If Consumer Cellular turns out not to owe any state taxes in some of those years, Portland Business Alliance lobbyist Bernie Bottomly said in May 2011, it forfeits some of its future savings.

[edit] Criticism as "boondoggle"

Some argue that this creates inefficient ways to pay for useful programs. Progressive Oregon Director Noah Heller called BETC a "boondooggle" and said in May 2011 that the state would be better off just spending $2.5 million a year on, for example, the YouthPass program.

"These programs should be able to defend themselves on their own," Heller said. "I think the YouthPass does, and should be funded through regular budgetary means."

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