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Energy Northwest Pays Privilege Tax Today


John Dobken, Public Affairs, 509-377-8369
Anna Markham, Public Affairs, 509-377-8162       


RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Northwest paid more than $4.4 million in privilege taxes to the state of Washington today. The annual tax is levied on public power electricity producers for the privilege of generating electricity in the state.

The amount of the annual privilege tax is directly tied to the amount of electricity generated. Columbia Generating Station, the third largest generator of electricity in the state, produced more than 8.1 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity in 2015, a refueling and maintenance outage year.

“The payment we made today is just one more benefit Columbia Generating Station and nuclear power provides to Washington state,” said Brent Ridge, vice president and chief financial officer. “The funds distributed through the privilege tax directly enhance quality of life in local communities. We’re proud of that.”

The public power agency produces electricity at its four generating facilities: Columbia Generating Station, Nine Canyon Wind Project, Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project and White Bluffs Solar Station. Generation at these four facilities totaled more than 8.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity during calendar year 2015.

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. As the only nuclear energy facility in the Northwest, Columbia generates enough electricity to power more than one million homes 24/7.

The privilege tax is levied on organizations that enjoy the privilege of generating, distributing or selling electricity in Washington, and is authorized in the Revised Code of Washington sections 54.28.020 and 54.28.025.

Privilege taxes collected by the state on Columbia output will be distributed, as authorized by RCW 54.28.050, RCW 54.28.055 and RCW 54.28.040, with 44.9 percent of the payment – $1.96 million – going to the state school fund and 10.2 percent of the payment – $449,479 – going to the general fund. The remaining 44.9 percent of the total taxes – another $1.96 million – will go to jurisdictions within a 35-mile radius of the Benton County intersection of Stevens Drive and Horn Rapids Road, with distribution based upon the population in each area.

The 39 separate jurisdictions receiving payments within the 35-mile radius of Columbia include Benton, Franklin, Grant, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties; and the cities of Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, Benton City, Prosser, West Richland, Connell, Mesa, Grandview, Sunnyside, Mabton. Nineteen-point-eight percent of the tax is distributed to counties ($862,998), 20.6 percent to cities ($902,226), 2.7 percent to fire districts ($117,681) and 1.8 percent to library districts ($78,454).

Energy Northwest has paid approximately $87 million in privilege taxes on its electricity production since Columbia Generating Station began operating in 1984, while creating virtually no greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the more than $4.3 million in taxes on power generated by Columbia Generating Station, Energy Northwest also paid $63,979 in privilege tax under RCW 54.28.020, for electricity produced at the agency’s non-thermal electric power producing sites. Those include Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project near Packwood, Wash.; Nine Canyon Wind Project, south of Kennewick, Wash.; and the White Bluffs Solar Station near Columbia Generating Station, north of Richland, Wash. Fifty-six percent of the taxes associated with non-thermal generation was distributed to local counties (Lewis - $10,509 and Benton - $25,304), 34 percent to the state school fund ($21,583) and 10 percent to the general fund ($6,577).

About Energy Northwest                                                                                                    

Energy Northwest develops, owns and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar and wind projects – and the Northwest’s only nuclear power facility. These projects provide enough reliable, affordable and environmentally respon­sible energy to power more than a million homes each year, and that carbon-free electricity is provided at the cost of generation. As a Washington state, joint action agency, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million ratepayers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs.

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