Three Tri-City public power electricity producers and providers recently paid more than $9 million in privilege taxes to the state.
The annual tax is levied on public power electricity producers and providers for the privilege of generating electricity or providing electricity in the state.
Energy Northwest paid nearly $4.8 million, up from last year’s $5.3 million, a record for the agency.
Benton PUD paid $2.7 million, up from $2.4 million last year, and Franklin PUD paid $1.7 million, up from last year’s $1.6 million.
In 2017, the state collected about $53.9 million in privilege taxes, which accounted for 0.24 percent of all state taxes. The privilege tax was enacted in 1941.
The privilege taxes collected by the state from Benton PUD include $905,000 for the state school fund and $276,000 to the state general fund. In addition, $1.5 million is divided between Benton County, and the cities of Kennewick, Prosser, Benton City and Richland.
The privilege taxes collected by the state from Franklin PUD include $578,562 to the state school fund, $176,313 to the state general fund and $960,166 to Franklin County.
The amount of Energy Northwest’s annual privilege tax is directly tied to the amount of electricity generated at Columbia Generating Station, the third largest generator of electricity in the state at the plant north of Richland.
“A recent study showed Columbia Generating Station’s value to the region, in economic benefits, jobs and carbon-free electricity generation,” said Brent Ridge, vice president and chief financial officer of Energy Northwest, in a news release. “These privilege taxes will go directly to supporting the local communities who support us every day.”
The public power agency produces electricity at three other generating facilities: Nine Canyon Wind Project, Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project and White Bluffs Solar Station. Generation at its four facilities totaled more than 8.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year.
Columbia produced more than 96 percent of the total power generated by Energy Northwest, which is provided at the cost of production to the Bonneville Power Administration for resale to customers in six Western states.
Here’s how Energy Northwest’s privilege taxes will be distributed: $2.1 million goes to the state school fund and $484,025 goes to the state general fund. The remaining $2.1 million will be divided between jurisdictions within a 35-mile radius of the Benton County intersection of Stevens Drive and Horn Rapids Road, with distribution based on population.
Those within the radius include Benton, Franklin, Yakima, Walla Walla and Grant counties; the cities of Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, West Richland, Grandview, Sunnyside, Prosser, Connell, Benton City and Mesa; and four library and 16 fire districts.
Energy Northwest has paid approximately $97 million in privilege taxes since Columbia Generating Station began operating in 1984.
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