Oregon DEQ fines Lincoln City electric charging company $2.7 million, largest ever in agency history

Electric car charging stations are seen at the Residence Inn by Marriott in northeast Portland. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality fined a company on Friday for falsely claiming it was producing environmental credits from a car charging station that didn’t exist.

Moriah Ratner/OPB

State environmental regulators have slapped their biggest-ever fine ever, $2.7 million, on an electric charging company for fraudulent claims, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Friday.

DEQ discovered that Thompson Technical Services, or TTS Charging, sold more than $2 million in fraudulent credits through the agency’s clean fuel program. The program, implemented in 2016, is designed to help the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 37% by 2035. It offers incentives, such as credits, to companies that produce transport fuels such as electricity or biofuels. These companies can then sell credits to other companies to comply with state rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Each credit is equal to 1 ton of reduced emissions.

According to DEQ, TTS Charging falsely claimed more than 16,000 credits on June 10, alleging it distributed nearly 15 million kilowatt hours of electricity from three vehicle charging stations earlier this year.

“Turns out that really wasn’t true,” DEQ spokesman Harry Esteve said. “They hadn’t distributed electricity, they hadn’t even installed the charging stations.”

The company then sold the credits on June 27 for nearly $1.8 million to an oil and natural gas transportation company, Elbow River Marketing, based in Canada.

DEQ revoked TTS Charging’s account with the Clean Fuels Program. The agency ordered the company to purchase legitimate credits to replace those it falsely claimed and sold, and to pay the $2.7 million civil penalty.

“The Clean Fuels program is one of the most effective ways Oregon currently has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it’s a leading cause of human-induced climate change,” Esteve said. “It’s a market-based program, and so generating those credits and selling them is what makes this program work. So we’re very concerned about maintaining integrity, and that’s one of the reasons why this fine is so important. »

Since its inception, the clean fuels program has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6 million tons, according to DEQ. That’s the equivalent of more than 1.6 million gasoline-powered vehicles driven for a year.

“The clean fuels program has been very successful, but the sale of fraudulent credits seriously undermines the environmental benefits of the program,” DEQ Acting Director Leah Feldon said in a statement. “This penalty is intended to encourage the offender to return legitimate credits to the market and should act as a deterrent to anyone contemplating similar fraudulent behavior.”

TTS Charging did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Friday’s action is the largest fine ever issued by DEQ. Earlier this year, the agency fined a Portland roofing company, Herbert Malarkey Roofing Co., $2.1 million for an air quality violation. In July, the agency and company settled for $1.45 million. The Port of Morrow was also fined a hefty $2.1 million earlier this year for several sewage violations that polluted groundwater in the area.

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