Energy Programs Scrutinized by House Audits Committee (.PDF)
Rep. Krummel's Audits Committee examined how the state is spending the 3% Public Purpose Charge on every PGE and PacifiCorp customer bill.
The charge generates about $50 million a year and pays for everything from subsidizing more expensive "green" power to building low income housing around the state.
Some of the proceeds from the PPC are distributed by the Energy Trust of Oregon for conservation and renewable energy projects. Other funds are used by Education Service Districts, the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department, and by large commercial and industrial users for self-directed programs.
So in 1999 the legislature voted in a "surcharge" (not a tax, mind you) on your electric bill. This looks like it has turned into a slush fund for various public and private entities to use as they wish. PGE offers voluntary "green" power that can be purchased in kilowatt hours for a slight increase but apparently government doesn't think you should have a choice, it's much easier for them just to take your money and spend it how they see fit.
Of course in the winter time when your bill gets more expensive the inevitable stories about choosing between heat and food come out. I say you can thank government for adding surcharges and regulating the energy industry to death for that expensive bill. We should end the PPC early, the longer we give them the money the harder it will be to wean them off of it.