The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 31, 2013

Utilities irked by water fee proposal

— HARRISBURG — Electric utilities, the biggest water users in the commonwealth, are bristling at the suggestion that they will be asked to pay a fee to the cash-strapped Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Through a quirk of geography, electric companies in half of Pennsylvania already pay consumptive use fees to governmental agencies — the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission.

Those fees add up to about $500,000 a year for PPL, based in Allentown, a spokesman said. PPL provides power to about 1.4 million customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania and pays fees to both basin commissions.

Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway has proposed levying a fee on large water users as a means of closing a budget gap after the commission backed away from a plan to close two trout hatcheries in a bid to save $2 million.

Last year, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission collected $3.6 million in fees for consumptive water use — that is, the water was used in a way that prevented it from being immediately returned to the river basin. The money is used to build reservoirs and other infrastructure that can release water into the river basin system during dry periods, according to Susan Obleski, a spokeswoman for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

The Fish and Boat Commission has estimated that electric companies use more than 6 billion gallons of water a day to generate power. The public water supply uses about 1.4 billion gallons of water a day. Other industrial uses consume about 770,000 gallons a day.

The $3.6 million in fees does not include a number of special arrangements that have been made with power companies that have invested in reservoir systems or other ways to collect water rather than pay the basin commission to do it, Obleski said.

The Delaware River Basin Commission was created through a compact formed by Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and the federal government. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission was created by Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and the federal government. No comparable commission exists in the western portion of the state.

But what that means is that if the Fish and Boat Commission was to begin billing companies for using large amounts of water, electric companies and other large users of water in one half of the state would be getting billed twice by two separate governmental agencies for the same thing, said Jacob Smeltz, president of the Electric Power Generators Association, the trade group representing power plants in Pennsylvania.

“We would view it as a tax, and we would be strongly opposed,” Smeltz said. “We are cognizant of the Fish and Boat Commission’s budget problems, but we are dealing with very, very difficult wholesale markets.”

The price of wholesale power decreased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011, and then from 2011-12, the price dropped another 23 percent, Smeltz said.

“If we artificially increase the price through a tax, it will add to costs of manufacturing and industrial processes,” he said. “I don’t think it makes sense to increase the cost of a commodity that everyone depends on.”

1
Text Only
News
  • Injured bicyclist can't believe car didn't stop

    SUNBURY — Brandon Reigle has one question for the driver and passengers who left him in the middle of the road after hitting the bicyclist with a car Wednesday: Why?

    April 17, 2014

  • Petitions target 'toxic few' on Midd-West board

    MIDDLEBURG — More than 400 names have been gathered on two petitions to remove a pair of Midd-West school directors after some members of the public claimed the district has been in disarray for quite some time.

    April 17, 2014

  • crash18.jpg Snyder County collision injures driver, kills two horses

    PORT TREVORTON — A car struck two horses on a rural road in Snyder County Thursday afternoon, injuring the driver and resulting in the death of the horses.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strike17.jpg Danville teachers hit picket lines

    DANVILLE - It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snook suspension now a mystery

    MIDDLEBURG — Acting Midd-West Superintendent Daphne Snook is confused about what the school board is alleging she did that led to her suspension without pay, saying she hasn’t received anything in writing. “Nothing I have been told by the board in any way makes me believe that I violated district policy or the law,” Snook said by email Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Danville teacher strike starts today

    DANVILLE — Nearly four hours of negotiations could not prevent the first teacher strike at Danville in decades.

    April 17, 2014

  • Ruling on torture could save Miranda Barbour's life

    SUNBURY — An attorney for homicide suspect Miranda Barbour filed a motion Wednesday in Northumberland County Court asking a judge to rule that murder victim Troy LaFerrara was not tortured before being killed.

    April 16, 2014

  • Investigation: Weapon used in attack on county prison officers

    SUNBURY — A “homemade metal weapon” was used in the attack against three corrections officers at the Northumberland County Prison on Friday, according to prison officials.

    April 16, 2014

  • Milton woman charged with endangering child

    MILTON — A Milton mom faces two misdemeanors after investigators said her 1-year-old suffered first- and second-degree burns while in her care and she failed to seek medical attention.

    April 16, 2014

  • Sunbury man critically injured in SUV crash

    SUNBURY — A driver was injured Tuesday night when his SUV careened off Mile Hill Road and down a steep 20-foot embankment, knocking over trees until it crashed and twisted around a large tree trunk.

    April 16, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Poll

Are you among those who will be completing and mailing your tax forms today?

Yes
No - Already Filed
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.