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Record generation yields EN’s largest privilege tax payment to state


​Mike Paoli, Public Affairs, 509-713-4950                  
Carla Martinez, Public Affairs, 509-308-0457

RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Northwest paid nearly $5.7 million in privilege taxes today to the state of Washington, a new record for the agency. The annual tax is levied on organizations that generate, distribute or sell electricity in Washington, as authorized by Revised Code of Washington sections 54.28.020 and 54.28.025.

Amount of tax is directly tied to the amount of electricity generated. The Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant, the third largest generator of electricity in the state, produced more than 9.7 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity during 2018, a record in its 34-year operating history. Power from Columbia, which provides almost 97 percent of the total power generated by Energy Northwest-owned facilities, is provided at the cost of production to the Bonneville Power Administration for resale to customers in six Western states.

“In addition to providing reliable, full-time electricity to the Northwest, Columbia’s operation provides an enormous economic benefit to the region in terms of jobs and tax contributions,” said Brent Ridge, vice president of corporate services and chief financial officer.

Columbia’s operation supports more than 3,930 national jobs, including more than 2,830 in Washington, according to a 2018 analysis by the Nuclear Energy Institute. The nuclear facility also contributes more than $690 million a year to the U.S. economy, including $475 million here in Washington.

Privilege taxes collected by the state on Columbia’s 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 – $2.522 million – going to the state school fund and 10.2 percent of the payment – $572,967 – going to the state general fund. The remaining 44.9 percent of the Columbia taxes – another $2.522 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 35 separate jurisdictions receiving payments within the 35-mile radius of Columbia are Benton, Franklin, Yakima, Walla Walla and Grant counties; the cities of Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, West Richland, Grandview, Sunnyside, Prosser, Connell, Benton City and Mesa; along with four library and 16 fire districts in the counties receiving payments. Distribution to the jurisdictions breaks out as 19.8 percent to counties ($1.110 million), 20.6 percent to cities ($1.160 million), 2.7 percent to fire districts ($151,000) and 1.8 percent to library districts ($101,000).

“These privilege taxes go directly to the local communities who support us every day,” Ridge said.

Energy Northwest has paid approximately $102.6 million in privilege taxes on nuclear generation since Columbia Generating Station began operating in 1984, while generating no greenhouse gas emissions.

The public power agency operates a diverse portfolio of 100 percent clean energy resources – nuclear, hydro, wind and solar. Generation from all EN-owned facilities totaled more than 10 million megawatt-hours of electricity during 2018.

A portion of the $5.7 million includes $69,627 in privilege taxes, under RCW 54.28.020, for electricity produced at the agency’s renewable energy sites. Those are Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project near Packwood, Wash; Nine Canyon Wind Project, south of Kennewick; and White Bluffs Solar Station near Columbia Generating Station, north of Richland. Fifty-six percent of the taxes associated with these sites will be distributed to local counties (Lewis – $10,489, and Benton – $28,503), 33.7 percent to the state school fund ($23,464) and10.3 percent to the state general fund ($7,171).

Other taxes paid by Energy Northwest in 2018 totaled more than $8.4 million. They were:

  • Sales tax: $8,219,986
  • Leasehold tax: $195,488 (A tax on the use of public property by private party. This tax is in lieu of the property tax.)
  • B&O tax: $43,277 (State B&O tax is a gross receipts tax. It is measured on the value of products, gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business.)
  • Public utility tax: $2,623 (Tax derived from operation of utilities, in lieu of the B&O tax.)

About Energy Northwest                

Energy Northwest owns and operates a diverse mix of 100 percent clean electricity generating resources: hydro, solar and wind projects, and the third-largest provider of electricity in Washington – the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power facility. These projects provide carbon-free electricity at the cost of generation – enough clean, cost-effective and reliable energy to power more than a million homes each year. As an independent joint action agency of Washington state, Energy Northwest comprises 26 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million customers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs. In 2016, the Association of Washington Business named Energy Northwest the state’s Employer of the Year.

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