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House offers up new twist on Vermont Yankee tax

MONTPELIER -- House members offered up a different proposed tax Tuesday to pay for an energy-efficiency program -- one that still focuses on Vermont Yankee but in a way that proponents say should defuse complaints about an earlier Senate plan to tax some of the nuclear power plant's profits. The new plan nonetheless drew fire from the plant's owner, Entergy Corp., and the Douglas administration. The proposal would tax Entergy at just over one-half cent per kilowatt hour on the amount of power it generates at the Vernon plant. That would amount to about $25 million a year, a hefty increase from the $4.5 million Entergy now pays.......Wind developers don't like the rate of just over one-half cent per kilowatt hour proposed by the House, saying it is high enough to discourage developers from coming to Vermont. Andrew Perchlik of Renewable Energy Vermont Inc. said three-tenths of a cent is more fair.

MONTPELIER -- House members offered up a different proposed tax Tuesday to pay for an energy-efficiency program -- one that still focuses on Vermont Yankee but in a way that proponents say should defuse complaints about an earlier Senate plan to tax some of the nuclear power plant's profits.

The new plan nonetheless drew fire from the plant's owner, Entergy Corp., and the Douglas administration.

The proposal would tax Entergy at just over one-half cent per kilowatt hour on the amount of power it generates at the Vernon plant. That would amount to about $25 million a year, a hefty increase from the $4.5 million Entergy now pays.

It's also significantly more than the $37 million over six years that the Senate's proposed tax on Vermont Yankee's profits would have generated, though House members said the per-kilowatt rate is likely to be lowered.

The idea, said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Morristown, is to tax the nuclear power plant at the same rate the state plans to tax wind projects.

"The reason we did this is because we heard Entergy was being treated differently," Smith said.

Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove said Entergy is still being singled out, just by a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

MONTPELIER -- House members offered up a different proposed tax Tuesday to pay for an energy-efficiency program -- one that still focuses on Vermont Yankee but in a way that proponents say should defuse complaints about an earlier Senate plan to tax some of the nuclear power plant's profits.

The new plan nonetheless drew fire from the plant's owner, Entergy Corp., and the Douglas administration.

The proposal would tax Entergy at just over one-half cent per kilowatt hour on the amount of power it generates at the Vernon plant. That would amount to about $25 million a year, a hefty increase from the $4.5 million Entergy now pays.

It's also significantly more than the $37 million over six years that the Senate's proposed tax on Vermont Yankee's profits would have generated, though House members said the per-kilowatt rate is likely to be lowered.

The idea, said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Morristown, is to tax the nuclear power plant at the same rate the state plans to tax wind projects.

"The reason we did this is because we heard Entergy was being treated differently," Smith said.

Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove said Entergy is still being singled out, just by a different means. "There seems to be no end to the way it's presented," Cosgrove said. "The one thing consistent is it's a tax increase."

Entergy reached a deal with the state in 2003 to tax the nuclear power plant based on its generation rather than property value because the state wanted tax stability as the plant's value decreased, Cosgrove said.

Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, argued that Entergy can't expect that tax to stay the same forever as the plant's increased power generation and storage of high-level nuclear waste have increased its value. "That's like adding a three-car garage," he said. "Wouldn't you love to have somebody tell you in 2003 you're going to pay the same property tax from here to eternity."

The House plan would also tap $4.7 million that Efficiency Vermont is slated to receive in the next three years from a New England program designed to ensure future electric capacity.

The new proposal was made in a six-person conference committee between the House and Senate conferees. Senate conferees are expected to respond today.

"I'm not going to say no to it right now," said Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, although he indicated some discomfort with taxing wind and nuclear power. at the same rate. "I'm wondering why we would equate wind power, which is relatively benign, with nuclear, which is very dangerous."

The House proposal didn't win over the Douglas administration. "What's changed?" Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien said. "You're raising their tax in a very short period of time."

O'Brien noted that the tax is the third proposed means of paying for the energy-efficiency program. A tax on home heating oil was scrapped last month for lack of support in the Senate, then was replaced by the tax on Vermont Yankee profits. "The leadership seems to be desperately looking for an out," O'Brien said.

Wind developers don't like the rate of just over one-half cent per kilowatt hour proposed by the House, saying it is high enough to discourage developers from coming to Vermont. Andrew Perchlik of Renewable Energy Vermont Inc. said three-tenths of a cent is more fair.

That's the rate the Senate had set for taxing wind projects, and Klein said he's interested in lowering the rate the House set to meet it.

Contact Terri Hallenbeck at 229-4126 or thallenb@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com



Source: http://www.burlingtonfreepr...

MAY 10 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/8779-house-offers-up-new-twist-on-vermont-yankee-tax
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