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Plan to make grants available after power plant closings may move ahead

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/15/19

State legislation making grants available to communities hit by a power plant closing could be put on the fast track, following Exelon’s announcement that Three Mile Island will be shut …

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Plan to make grants available after power plant closings may move ahead

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State legislation making grants available to communities hit by a power plant closing could be put on the fast track, following Exelon’s announcement that Three Mile Island will be shut down.

Exelon’s announcement puts the brakes on legislation proposed in the state House and Senate to provide a subsidy for the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania, said Chuck Erdman, chief of staff for Sen. John DiSanto, sponsor of the proposed legislation. His district includes much of Lower Dauphin School District — among those hardest hit by TMI closing.

With lawmakers not meeting Exelon’s deadline for legislation, the impetus to quickly pass a nuclear subsidy bill is gone, Erdman said. He now sees a “broader conversation about energy policy” taking place in the Legislature.

DiSanto’s bill has not been introduced but had been distributed among all state senators to attract co-sponsors.

Erdman hopes that the bill can get out of committee and be voted on by the full Senate before the end of June, by which time legislators will break for the summer after taking care of the state budget.

If not, the bill would be ready for the Senate to take up when it returns in the fall, Erdman said.

Under DiSanto’s proposal, the Department of Community and Economic Development would make state grants available to local governments that experience a reduction of at least 20 percent in property tax collections and payments in lieu of taxes received by a power plant.

Eligible local governments could apply for temporary relief for up to four years. Initial awards may be up to 80 percent of the demonstrated tax loss in the first year, up to 60 percent in year two, 40 percent in year three, and 20 percent in year four.

The relief would give municipalities and school districts time to replace tax shortfalls and to transition while lessening the immediate impact on schools and essential public services.

“In the case of TMI, we would be looking at less than $2 million in the first year. In the grand scheme of things, that is relatively modest,” Erdman said.