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Agreement provides payments through 2019 from TMI to Lower Dauphin School District, Londonderry Township, and Dauphin County

By Dan Miller, danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 11/29/17

An agreement has been extended by two years that calls for Three Mile Island to make annual payments in addition to property taxes to Dauphin County, Londonderry Township, and Lower Dauphin School …

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Agreement provides payments through 2019 from TMI to Lower Dauphin School District, Londonderry Township, and Dauphin County

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An agreement has been extended by two years that calls for Three Mile Island to make annual payments in addition to property taxes to Dauphin County, Londonderry Township, and Lower Dauphin School District.

For example, TMI is assessed to pay the school district $329,442 a year in property taxes. Under terms of the agreement approved by Dauphin County commissioners on Nov. 29, TMI owners Exelon Corp. will keep paying the school district an additional $308,259 on top of the property taxes that TMI pays to Lower Dauphin, for a grand annual total of $637,701.

That doesn’t count the other revenue that the school district receives as a result of TMI being in Londonderry Township, such as money from the earned income tax and the money TMI gives to support charities like the Lower Dauphin Communities That Care program, noted district spokesman Jim Hazen.

The agreement means that Londonderry will continue receiving annual funding from TMI beyond the nearly $38,000 that the township receives in property tax revenue from the nuclear plant each year.

The county itself will also continue receiving additional revenue from TMI beyond what the county already receives in property taxes each year.

In total, the agreement provides for a combined $1.86 million in addition to property taxes that the school district, township, and county are to receive from TMI over the next two years, according to a county press release.

TMI has been making annual payments to the three local governments in addition to property taxes ever since 2008, when TMI and the county negotiated an agreement to end a dispute over TMI getting a reduction in the assessed value of its property.

The agreement between TMI and the county is typically renegotiated about every five years, although the amount of money that TMI pays to each of the three entities each year remains about the same on an annual basis, according to Ed Callan, TMI site vice president.

The agreement was to expire at the end of 2017. This time TMI sought to extend terms of the agreement for just two years, due to Exelon’s announcement on May 30 that TMI will close by September 2019, unless the state of Pennsylvania comes up with a remedy to make TMI and other nuclear plants in the state more competitive with natural gas and alternative energy.

“We’re not sure what is going to happen,” Callan said after the commissioners’ meeting. “If we do get our life extended, we’ll be back in 2019 again to renegotiate” a new agreement between TMI and the county.

Renewing the agreement last Wednesday was another chance for commissioners and local government officials to make the case for why the state needs to take some kind of action to rescue TMI and the other nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania.

TMI is the second largest employer and second largest property taxpayer in Lower Dauphin School District, second in both categories only to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Hazen said.

If the $637,701 that the school district receives in direct payments from TMI went away, it would mean a tax increase of $38.92 to make it up for every owner of a property in the school district assessed at $100,000, Hazen said.

Double that amount for the owner of a home that is assessed at $200,000.

Hazen was joined at the event by Eric Samples, a Lower Dauphin school board member. No one representing Londonderry Township appeared to be at the meeting, although the township has been active at public events aimed at saving TMI that have been put on by the Clean Jobs for Pennsylvania coalition, which was formed shortly after Exelon’s announcement about TMI closing.

County Commissioner Mike Pries, who is co-chairman of the coalition, ran down a list of other numbers attesting to the role TMI plays in the economy of the county and surrounding region — 675 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $60 million, nearly $1 million in direct annual revenue to the county, Londonderry, and Lower Dauphin School District; and roughly $300,000 a year to charities.

Besides the full-time jobs, TMI brings in about another 1,200 workers for several weeks every other year for refueling and maintenance of the Unit 1 reactor.

In 2017 the refueling provided 36,000 room nights to the lodging industry throughout the area, in addition to benefits to restaurants and other businesses, Pries noted.

“We’re talking millions of dollars of economic impact per year from TMI and Exelon,” Pries said. “It’s something that is a fabric of our community. The residents, the school children, the homeowners, the businesses that would be impacted by TMI not being in full operation in the future would be devastating to our local economy.”

The three commissioners are united in their support for preserving TMI, but it’s ultimately up to other decision makers, Commissioner George Hartwick pointed out.

“We know the impact that it (TMI) has and we know that you (Pries) are trying to attempt to fight on a level playing field with the natural gas industry, that quite frankly has a distinct advantage,” Hartwick said.

“I never thought I’d be arguing for clean energy tax credits for the nuclear industry, but it’s clear that that is a part of a component for diversification of the production of energy that needs to be a component in this county, and it certainly needs to be a part of some level of state action in order to offer a level playing field to keep the employees who are hard-working at TMI employed and a part of our local economy.”

Exelon is working with the state Legislature’s Nuclear Energy Caucus on a “new energy policy” that would “properly compensate nuclear for its environmental attributes,” Jeannie Liggett, Exelon senior manager of state government affairs, said after Wednesday’s meeting.

But as of now, there is no legislation or any specific proposal pointing the way to a solution that would preserve TMI and the other nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania, Liggett noted.