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Pull plug on energy loans

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

 – The Eugene Register Guard

Oregon’s Small Scale Energy Loan Program started out as a neighborhood credit union, but somehow became Lehman Brothers. Gov. Kate Brown should immediately accept Treasurer Ted Wheeler’s recommendation that the program’s lending be suspended due to a $20 million deficit that will require a taxpayer bailout…

…SELP puttered smoothly along for decades after the voters approved its creation in 1980…It was designed to be self-supporting — the state would sell bonds, government agencies and private parties would borrow the money for small-scale energy-saving or energy-generating projects, and their loan payments would retire the bonds…

In recent years…SELP could be labeled the Enron of the state Department of Energy…SELP loaned $18 million for an ethanol plant in Clatskanie that went bankrupt…Other big loans also turned sour…

In a letter sent Thursday to Brown, Wheeler said that for the fiscal year that ended last June 30 the program had a “negative fund balance” of about $20 million. That means taxpayers will be on the hook for bond repayments…

We Respond & Your Comments

Way to go, Ted! Most “Progressives,” when faced with a failing government program, just double down on it. Ted’s right to call for sudden death for SELP.

SELP is a perfect example of why governments at all levels should stay out of the loan business. First, they don’t know how to assess risks. Banks do. When somebody comes to a government agency for a loan it’s because the banks wouldn’t touch his project with a Jedi lightsaber pike.

Second, banks have “skin in the game.” If too many loans go stinko somebody’s out of a job. Politicians play with your money, not their own. And their DNA tells them to use your money to buy themselves votes. So they lend your bucks for projects that’ll return votes for them and bigger tax bills to you.

Keep it up, Ted. And don’t let Gov. Kate cave to the Beaver State Greenies.


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