Vermont Yankee’s parent company Entergy filed a new lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court against Gov. Peter Shumlin, Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Taxes Mary Peterson for a tax levy that Entergy is calling “unconstitutional.”
Entergy aims to overturn an electrical generation tax passed during the 2012 legislative session (in House Act 782), which charges the nuclear power plant Vermont Yankee $0.0025 per kilowatt-hour and raises roughly $12.5 million in annual state revenue. Entergy argues it has no way to challenge or seek review of the tax in Vermont, and so the Louisiana-based company has turned to the U.S. District Court.
Lawyers for Entergy contend “the Legislation imposes an illegal and burdensome new exaction on this important provider of interstate electric power.”
The lawsuit paints a picture of state retaliation. When Entergy sued Shumlin and the state of Vermont for trying to shut down Vermont Yankee, the state lost. U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled in January that Entergy could continue to operate past the state-mandated shutdown date of March 21. The tax legislation passed several months later, and Entergy says the measure was meant to “impose a new financial burden” on the company.
Before the new levy took effect in July, Entergy paid about $5 million in generating tax. Since 2005, the company has also paid $6 million annually into the state’s Clean Energy Development Fund for renewable energy projects. Entergy’s agreement to pay into that fund, however, expires at the end of 2012.
As VTDigger reported in April, legislators were planning to use a portion of that $12.5 million to prop up the renewable energy fund.
Entergy has proposed to pay the $5 million annually that it previously paid in generating tax.
Correction: In the U.S. District Court decision that permitted Vermont Yankee to continue operating this year, Entergy sued the state of Vermont, not the other way around as was stated in an earlier version of this story. Consequently, Shumlin and the state of Vermont filed an appeal on Feb. 18 to contest the decision.