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Board of Review denies nuke tax appeals

Exelon's Byron Generating Station is located on German Valley Road betweek Oregon and Byron. File photo
Exelon's Byron Generating Station is located on German Valley Road betweek Oregon and Byron. File photo

The Ogle County Board of Review (BOR) chose the middle ground last week when it set the assessment of Exelon’s Byron Generating Station.

After hearing appeals from attorneys for both Exelon Nuclear and the Byron School District Jan. 30, the BOR upheld the assessment of $509,444,605 set last fall by Supervisor of Assessments Jim Harrison.

Exelon Nuclear officials appealed that assessment, claiming the plant’s value should be set at $252,937,302, just 49.6 percent of Harrison’s number.

Byron School District officials, on the other hand, set the plant’s value at $730 million in their appeal.

The appeal is for the generating station’s 2013 assessment, which affects taxes payable in 2014.

The assessment is slightly higher than the $499 million set by Harrison in 2012.

“I bumped it up based on the assessments of other nuclear plants and the likelihood that a license extension will be granted,” Harrison said Dec. 6.

Exelon has applied for a 20-year extension to its current licenses, which expire in 2025 and 2027.

Both Exelon and Byron school officials also appealed last year’s assessment, and the BOR upheld Harrison’s number at a hearing held a year ago.

Both appealed last year’s BOR decision to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which has not yet made its ruling.

Exelon paid more than $32 million in real estate taxes last year to 11 taxing bodies, which include Ogle County, Rockvale Township, Byron School District, Oregon School District, Oregon Park District, Byron Fire District, Rock Valley College, Byron Public Library District, Byron Museum District, Byron Forest Preserve District, and Kishwaukee Community College.

The Byron School District received the largest share of that money — $18.4 million.

The value of the Byron Generating Station has frequently been disputed throughout the history of the facility.

A four-year agreement between the taxing bodies and Exelon for the plant’s assessment expired at the end of 2011.

The agreement, approved in November of 2010, set the assessed value of the nuclear plant at $450 million for 2008, $460 million in 2009, $470 million in 2010, and $480 million in 2011. Besides setting the plant’s value, the  agreement settled a lawsuit and numerous tax appeals filed between 2005 and 2008.

Commonwealth Edison, which formerly owned the plant, filed its first tax in 1989 when the assessment was more than $1 billion.

The following year, the affected taxing bodies formed the Ogle County Intergovernmental Agency Board to fight the tax appeals.

The first multi-year agreement, approved in early 1998, set the assessments for 1997-2004 at $471 million and settled a decade of lawsuits and tax appeals. 

Exelon and the Ogle County Intergovernmental Agency Board are not currently actively negotiating for an assessment agreement.

According to an article last month in The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper that serves Bloomington, Normal, and the surrounding area, Exelon recently settled a tax dispute with the LaSalle County Board over the value of Exelon’s LaSalle County Generating Station at Seneca.

The article said the plant’s value was set at an average of $485 million each year for the seven-year agreement. Eleven taxing bodies receive property tax revenue from the plant.

Construction of the Byron Generating Station began in 1975. The first reactor started producing electricity in 1985 and the second went on line in 1987.

The two reactors at the LaSalle County station went on line in 1984 and are capable of producing less electricity than those at the Byron plant. 

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