A bill exempting merchant power plants from the business and occupation tax advanced out of committee Monday.
The House Finance Committee took up and passed two bills in its Monday afternoon meeting. Gov. Jim Justice added the two bills, along with two others referred to the Judiciary Committee, in a fifth amended special session call.
House Bill 207 would exempt merchant power plants from the business and occupation tax. The bill defines merchant power plant as: “electricity generating plant in this state that is not subject to regulation of its rates by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, sells electricity it generates only on the wholesale market, does not sell electricity pursuant to one or more long-term sales contracts, and does not sell electricity to retail consumers.” The exemption would go into effect July 1, 2020.
In a press release of his amended call, the governor said he wanted a bill to keep the FirstEnergy Pleasants Power Station in Willow Island from closing. The plant is classified as a merchant power plant.
FirstEnergy Solutions CEO John Judge told lawmakers the bill would create a level playing field for the plant. He also cited an August deadline for bidding into the next capacity auction as a reason for the bill.
The committee also advanced House Bill 210, which would dedicate $200,000 to the state Auditor’s general administration fund to cover costs of transparency initiatives included in House Bill 206, the omnibus education bill, which passed last month.