Group pushes for higher Yankee taxBy LOUIS PORTER Vermont Press Bureau | December 12,2007MONTPELIER — The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which advocates for more renewable energy production in the state and greater investment in efficiency, is urging lawmakers to increase the taxes on the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
That is because — according to a new VPIRG report — the nuclear plant pays less toward education in Vermont in taxes per kilowatt hour of electricity produced than other power producers, including renewable power generators. That favors the nuclear plant over renewable power generators, according to those who wrote the VPIRG report.
"Our tax policy in Vermont runs counter to the clean energy future the Legislature and the governor have talked about wanting to create," said James Moore, an energy advocate for VPIRG. Moore and Jeff Thompson, a recent Vermont Law School student, wrote the report.
Last year lawmakers passed a bill imposing a higher "generation" tax on Vermont Yankee and using the money to pay for investments in heating fuel efficiency.
Gov. James Douglas vetoed that bill and legislative leaders have said they will not push for using the tax on Yankee to fund so-called "all fuels efficiency" again.
However lawmakers may still consider a higher tax on Vermont Yankee and simply put the money into the state's education fund.
Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, and a member of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said he will introduce a bill imposing a generation tax on Yankee.
The old tax system gives the nuclear plant a lower tax burden based on the idea that the plant might shut down and was of diminishing worth. However if the plant continues to operate — Entergy Nuclear which owns the site is seeking an extension of its license — and is able to sell some power on the open market it will be more valuable, Klein said.
"It makes that piece of property more valuable than it otherwise would be," he said.
"Vermont Yankee and its out-of-state corporate ownership are not pulling their weight," Moore said.
But just looking at what Vermont Yankee pays in education property taxes per kilowatt hour produced is not the complete picture, Entergy Spokesman Rob Williams said.
In addition to close to $5 million in taxes roughly split between the general and education funds, the plant pays $4.5 million annually into a clean energy fund as part of an agreement with the state, Williams pointed out. The plant also puts $1.6 million annually into emergency planning and $1.4 million in taxes to Brattleboro and Vernon, Williams said.
"On top of all that, Vermont Yankee delivers to Vermont very reliable electricity at only four cents per kilowatt-hour," Williams said in a statement "That will save Vermonters more than $668 million over the life of the 10-year power contract between Entergy and the utilities — according to the Department of Public Service."
The plant also employs about 600 people, Williams said.MORE IN Southern Vermont
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