Comanche Peak’s taxable value set at $1.95 billion

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant/Photo by Kathryn Jones/GR Current

Photo by Kathryn Jones

Luminant, operator of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, announced Thursday it reached an agreement with the Somervell Central Appraisal District for the taxable value of the county’s largest taxpayer.

After what Luminant described as “collaborative negotiations,” the power generation company and the CAD agreed that Comanche Peak’s 2014 taxable value will be set at $1.95 billion. That’s down from $2.2 billion last year.

County commissioners have been holding budget workshops and will set the county’s tax rate before Oct. 1 when the new fiscal year begins. Luminant said in a prepared statement that it will pay the 2014 property taxes in January 2015 as it usually does.

Read Luminant’s entire statement here: Luminant CPNPP 2014 Property Tax Statement FINAL_072414

Somervell County Judge Mike Ford said in the statement that Comanche Peak is “important to our county in so many ways—as an employer, taxpayer and responsible community member. We appreciate
that this negotiated agreement continues Luminant’s significant financial support of our county.”

In an interview with the Current earlier this month, Ford said he expected Comanche Peak’s 2014 valuation to fall by $300 million. As the aging plant’s valuation has declined in recent years, county officials have been scrambling for a way to cut costs and yet keep county-supported facilities such as the Expo Center operating.

(See the related story: http://glenrosecurrent.com/county-officials-wrangle-with-options-to-keep-expo-center-open/)

Ford said he does not want to see the center close and he doesn’t believe the majority of county commissioners do, either.

“I don’t feel like the court is wanting to close the Expo,” Ford said, but instead wants to “find an alternative that cuts our costs and allows the Expo to run as efficiently as possible.”

One alternative that has been suggested would be for a group such as the Glen Rose Rodeo Association to take over operations. Ford declined to “muddy the waters” by discussing possibilities and said county officials will consider all viable options before making a decision.

The county judge presents his proposed budget to commissioners by the end of July. Then the court will discuss budget priorities and amounts, hold a public meeting and then vote on the final figures.

In Luminant’s prepared statement, Rafael Flores, the company’s chief nuclear officer, said Comanche Peak “plays a vital role not only in powering Texas with reliable electricity from safe, clean nuclear energy but also as a corporate citizen in Somervell County. We thank the county and appraisal district for their hard work in reaching this fair solution for all.”

Somervell CAD Chief Appraiser Wes Rollen  also was quoted in the statement.

“The appraisal district’s responsibility is to appraise all property in the district at its market value,” he said. “We believe through our negotiations that we have accomplished that for the 2014 tax year.”

Luminant noted that since 2008, wholesale power prices in Texas have declined along with the price of natural gas leading to lower revenue at Comanche Peak and resulting in a lower fair market value.

Flores, who started at Comanche Peak in 1983, said the plant will be in Somervell County for “decades to come.”

“Our company and those of us who live and work in this area have a deep lasting investment here and, of course, are always concerned about the overall success of the community so it will continue to be a great place to live and work,” Flores said.

“Despite challenging power market conditions, Luminant remains the top property taxpayer in the county and is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and operate,” he added.

During Ford’s term as county judge, he has seen Comanche Peak’s valuation and contribution to county coffers fall by $700 million. But he said he believes this is the last year of the downturn.

“This is going to turn around,” he said. “I feel pretty confident this is the last downward trend year. Natural gas prices are going up. Electricity prices are going up.”

 

 

 

 

 

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