Two, nearly three, weeks ago, I was waiting to testify at the Senate Energy Subcommittee, and Sen. Dick Day was promoting SF 2091, an exemption of a planned combined cycle gas plant from utility personal property taxes. The plant is a 325MW plant that may be built over the underground gas storage facility north of Waseca, south of Morristown, on Hwy. 13 near the Waseca County and Rice County border.

Just recently, the Waseca County Commissioners met and they voted to exempt this power plant from personal property tax.

Here?s the item from the County Board?s agenda:

11:15 E.J. Simon, Simon Industries re: Power Plant Project, Blooming Grove Twp.
Mr. Simon would like to construct a 250mw power plant near the Excel Energy gas dome in northern Waseca County. The proposed plant would be fueled by natural gas and would employ up to 20 people. The developers would like the County?s support for legislative relief on the personal property taxes on the turbines needed for the plant.

House Research has written a Utility Personal Property Tax Primer that all local officials should become familiar with before making any exemption decision. Did they know that utility personal property tax represents significant revenue for local governments? Did they know that utility personal property tax has been cut significantly, from 4.6% to 2%? Even worse, did they know that local governments are negotiating to preserve revenue they would have gained from personal property tax ? Scott County and Shakopee just recently made such a deal with Xcel.
Under the agreement, instead of utility personal property taxes, Xcel will make annual payments to Shakopee of $440,900 and Scott County of $477,600 for five years, beginning next year. Why isn?t Waseca County going after those tax dollars? I can?t imagine that they don?t need the revenue! $900,000 a year can do a lot for a community!

And although this gas plant, as proposed, has not been applied for as of this date, there was a proposal for a smaller 46MW plant that was approved by the Environmental Quality Board previously. The Environmental Assessment Worksheet and other info is posted on the EQB site. To get on the list to receive EQB notices about this pending project, contact Bill Storm at (651) 296-9535.

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