Without a word of debate or even a roll call, the Senate voted Wednesday for a bill designed to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy, along with an increase in the state's tax on Vermont Yankee to pay for it.That's good news.
The tax on Vermont Yankee's electric generation would claim $25 million from the nuclear power plant's owner, Entergy Corp., between 2009 and 2012. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday, when it's likely to face debate.
Though the tax is significantly less than a $37 million profits tax the Senate previously proposed, the company and the governor remain opposed to it.
"This is still a case of a deal not being a deal," Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove said. "How do we know what's next?"
David O'Brien, commissioner of the state Department of Public Service, called the tax "irresponsible," and said it would hurt utility companies' negotiations for electric rates with Entergy if the nuclear power plant is relicensed in 2012.
O'Brien wouldn't say whether that means Gov. Jim Douglas would veto the bill, but he said the governor's opposition is strong.