Wisconsin Senate panel acts on power plant compensation bill

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Jan. 18, 2002 — A Wisconsin state Senate committee passed a measure sought by utilities that would compensate communities for allowing new electric generation to be located inside their borders.

The Wisconsin state Assembly adopted a similar measure in October. If passed, the measure would more than double payments to communities, towns, and counties that accept new plants built within their borders. The bill was supported by more than two dozen groups, including the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities.

The measure (AB 584) passed the Wisconsin Senate Health, Utilities, Veterans, and Military Committee and now heads to the full Senate where, if passed, it will be sent to Gov. Scott McCallum’s desk to be signed into law.

Last year, the state paid out $26.2 million from the “shared revenue” program to help compensate communities for the costs associated with hosting electric power plants. The “shared revenue” money comes from a complex formula that includes a tax on electricity sales and a state “valuation tax” on the value of power plants. Together they generated $137.9 million for the state last year, only a fifth of which was returned to the communities that host generation plants.

Sponsored by state Sen. Rod Moen, (D-Whitehall), chairman of the Senate committee, and state Rep. Tim Hoven (R-Port Washington), who chairs the Assembly’s utility committee, AB 584 moves the state tax levied on electrical power sales into a separate fund.

Under the proposed legislation, some communities that now have power plants within their borders and receive traditional utility aid payments may receive larger payments. As new power plants are built and electrical sales expand, the fund is expected to grow and provide more money for the program.

Moen predicted Wisconsin will need an additional 4,000 Mw of generating capacity in the next 10 years. Demand for electric power in Wisconsin is projected to grow with economic expansion, household growth, increased use of air conditioning, and proliferation of computers and other electronic devices.

Utility holding company Wisconsin Energy Corp., Milwaukee, said the legislation is important to help convince communities to accept new power plants. “We believe it is very important that communities willing to host new power development be compensated for the impact that the development will have on the community and its services,” said spokesman Mike John.

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