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Sen. Murkowski Commends FERC for Fixing Unfair Land-Use Fee 3/21/13

   

March 21, 2013

 

Sen. Murkowski Commends FERC for Fixing Unfair Land-Use Fee

FERC to Stop Practice of Collecting Land-Use Fees from Hydropower Projects on Non-Federal Property

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today applauded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for announcing they would end their long-standing practice of charging land-use fees for hydropower projects no longer located on federal land. This declaratory order comes a week after Murkowski re-introduced legislation (S. 564) to stop the fees.

“I’m extremely pleased with FERC’s common sense decision to stop charging land-use fees for hydropower projects no longer located on federal lands. While it’s appropriate for FERC to impose reasonable fees on hydro projects on federal land, once that property is transferred to private or state ownership, the fees should stop,” Murkowski said. “While I was prepared to push my legislation to end this inherently unfair practice, I commend FERC for fixing the issue at their monthly meeting.”

Through a technicality in federal law, FERC was allowed to continue to impose land-use fees even when the land at issue had been transferred out of federal ownership.  Last November, after FERC testified that it did not oppose the Murkowski legislation to halt the fee collection, eight entities – including four from Alaska – filed a petition requesting that FERC stop this practice. Today’s regulatory order grants the petition and ends the land-use fee for hydropower projects that occupy sold or transferred federal lands.

Background

Under the Federal Power Act, FERC – which is responsible for licensing private, municipal and state hydropower projects – is authorized to collect fees from hydro projects on federal property to compensate taxpayers for the use of those lands. Because of the way the law is written and interpreted by FERC, the Commission has continued to collect user fees even after the federal government has sold or transferred the land underneath a hydropower project.

Nationally, this practice effects about 14 hydropower projects – 10 of which are in Alaska – to the tune of some $250,000 in land-use fees to FERC every year. In Alaska, FERC collected $157,000 in fees in the past year from hydropower projects at Swan Lake, Tyee Lake, Blind Slough, Black Bear Lake, Cooper Lake, Skagway-Dewey lakes, Beaver Falls, Bradley Lake, and Green Lake, even though those projects are no longer on federal lands. These fees were scheduled to increase significantly this year.

The Alaska hydroelectric projects impacted by the land-use fees and the amount they paid to FERC last year are listed below:

Swan Lake Project (2911)

SE Alaska Power Agency (Alaska)

$20,141.66

Tyee Lake Project (3015)

SE Alaska Power Agency (Alaska)

$17,552.58

Blind Slough (201)

City of Petersburg (Alaska)

$3,261.47

Black Bear Lake (10440)

BBL Hydro Inc. (Alaska)

$1,993.82

Cooper Lake (2170)

Chugach Electric Association (Alaska)

$18,081.97

Skagway-Dewey Lakes (1051)

Alaska Power & Telephone Co. (Alaska)

$1,662.07

Beaver Falls (1922)

City of Ketchikan (Alaska)

$6,948.65

Bradley Lake (8221)

Alaska Energy Authority (Alaska)

$62,623.40

Green Lake (2818)

City of Sitka (Alaska)

$14,705.88

Annex/Salmon Creek (2307)

Alaska Electric Light & Power

$10,057.62

 

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