Big Stone Tax Deferral Continues
By Victoria Wicks
Property taxes on Big Stone power plant environmental upgrades will continue to be deferred if House Bill 1153 finds the same success in the Senate as it has in the House.
The bill passed unanimously on the House floor Tuesday.
Bill sponsor Jim Peterson says the old power plant, built in 1975, had to be retrofitted with environmental upgrades under EPA standards set in 2005. Peterson says the plant’s owners decided to go ahead with a $500 million upgrade, rather than scrapping the plant, in part because the legislature approved tax deferrals in 2006 and again in 2010.
House Bill 1153 clarifies that taxes are exempted during the entire construction process, estimated to last three years.
Peterson says the power plant not only serves customers of Ottertail, Northwestern, and Montana-Dakota power companies, but it offers expansion of wind generation.
“There’s going to be a transmission line built from that power plant down to White,” Peterson says. “I was speaking the other day with a gentleman from Iberdrola…and he said there’s going to be a transmission line that’s going to start this next year from down in that White area to Minneapolis. So this is so vitally important, this power plant, to the future of wind generation.”
Peterson says before the legislature offered a tax deferral, it received approval from county commissions and school boards.
The bill includes a sunset clause so that the law is repealed on Jan. 1, 2046.