Last month, Oregon’s first commercial “wave energy” project near Reedsport was officially abandoned.
The lead developer, New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies, had been promoting a utility-scale power project featuring 100 buoys, each weighing 260 tons. That plan was downsized to 10 buoys―and then to none.
The company had previously received a subsidy of $430,000 in Oregon lottery funds, along with millions more from the federal government. Apparently, this wasn’t enough; the company announced plans to move its operations to Australia, where it has been promised $62 million in handouts by the government.
This is just the latest in a string of Oregon fiscal blunders. The state wasted more than $200 million on a non-functioning health insurance website. Another $180 million disappeared in planning studies for a bridge over the Columbia River than never got built. And Governor Kitzhaber hired an “education czar” who was compensated some $400,000 before taking off for New York after less than a year on the job.
Investors all over the world understand that Oregon is the place to come for easy money. The business plan is simple: Profits flow to private companies, while losses are bone by Oregon taxpayers.
A 19th-century circus impresario once remarked, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He wasn’t talking about Oregon, but maybe this should be our new state slogan.
John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.