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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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Where will the money generated through the surcharge go?

Revenues from the Clean Energy Surcharge on large retailers will be deposited into the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund and disbursed as grants for programs and projects that meet the requirements and priorities of the ballot measure. Nonprofit organizations, including community centers and rental housing providers, will be eligible to apply either solely or in partnership with other nonprofit entities, government entities or for-profit businesses.

How much will the surcharge raise?

The City of Portland’s Revenue Division currently estimates annual tax receipts of $54 million to $71 million. Because of timing difference between tax years and fiscal years and an option for taxpayers to extend their filing deadlines for an additional six months, the Revenue Division will not have a final accounting of first year (tax year 2019) revenues until late 2020 or early 2021. Actual collections will vary based on economic conditions, the proportion of sales that are classified by taxpayers as retail or wholesale, and the definition of taxpayers and their tax liability.

How can I be sure the dollars will be spent wisely?

A nine-person oversight committee of experts and community members, modeled after the successful Portland Children's Levy, will recommend which projects get funded and ensure accountability. The committee’s funding recommendations will be approved by City Council in a transparent and public process before funds are awarded. The committee will also evaluate and report on the effectiveness of the funded programs in meeting their stated objectives and the overall goals of the initiative. In addition, the Fund will be subject to an annual financial audit and a performance audit every two years.

How will the Fund help people with low-incomes?

The Fund will directly benefit people with low incomes, and prioritize creating family-wage jobs, healthier homes and reduced utility costs for under-served communities. Landlords who agree to improve properties through the Fund’s energy efficiency upgrade programs will be required to limit rent increases. Robust contracting standards will also ensure that historically disadvantaged people are trained, and minority- and women-owned businesses are performing the work.

How is this different from the work of Energy Trust of Oregon and State of Oregon clean energy programs?

The Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund is unique because it supports community-driven clean energy solutions and jobs to help Portlanders that need them the most. It also provides resources for families that do not have the disposable income to qualify for energy efficiency rebates and tax credits.

Energy Trust provides support and incentives for residential energy efficiency and solar energy to the maximum level governed by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, whose mission does not include climate change or social justice. The Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund will add much-needed dollars on top of Energy Trust incentives. In addition, the Fund will provide a stable source of long-term funding for energy efficiency projects after the expiration of the Oregon Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program in 2017.

Is my business subject to the 1 percent surcharge?

The Clean Energy Surcharge applies to large retailers with annual tax year total gross income from retail sales of $1 billion or more in the U.S. and $500,000 or more within the City of Portland, excluding utilities, co-ops, credit unions, and sales of qualified groceries, medicine or drugs, and health care services. For more information on the definition of a “large retailer”, tax filings and revenue collections of the Clean Energy Surcharge (Amendments to the Portland City Code Section 7.02, Business License Law), please visit the City’s Revenue Division’s website.

The Revenue Division is currently developing administrative rules that will provide additional clarity to taxpayers. There will be opportunity to provide public comment on draft rules. Details about the administrative rulemaking process can be found in Portland City Code Section 7.02.210.

I am interested in being a member of the Grant Committee. How can I apply?

The application for the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund Grant Committee closed on June 21st, 2019 after a 5-week recruitment period. City Council is expected to nominate grant committee members later this summer based on the pool of applicants. This initial Grant Committee will have five members appointed for 4-year terms and four members appointed for 2-year terms. However, all future appointments will serve staggered 4-year terms. The next recruitment for Grant Committee members is anticipated for Summer 2021.