Tag Archives: PPL

Corporate Tax Protests Have a History of Harming Schools

Unfortunately for Montana’s public school classrooms, big corporations refusing to pay the taxes is apparently  a fairly common practice.

 Pennsylvania Power and Light, a multi-national company worth $17 billion, did the same thing more than ten years ago after acquiring its dams from Montana Power. This was in large measure the reason Great Falls Public Schools had to close down a middle school to make up for the money PP&L owed but refused to pay.

The district was forced to put 6th graders back in elementary schools,  which soon led to overcrowding.  It will surprise no one that the city and the school board became divided over which of the three middle schools they would have to close. Several highly respected school board trustees were voted out of office thereafter, replaced by a group that voted to reverse the previous school board’s decision and close another middle school instead.

Great Falls schools suffered the brunt of PP&L’s actions, but as the Billings Gazette reported, schools in Sanders Count (Thompson Falls), Lewis and Clark County (Helena) and Rosebud County (Colstrip) were also impacted.

All thanks to PP&Ls refusing to pay the its taxes and protesting them instead, 94% of which courts later ruled the company owed and must pay–but by then the damage to these school districts was done.

As Mike Dennison reported in 2004, a lawyer for the state of Montana in the tax appeal case said he had “never seen a taxpayer so blatant in its attempt to avoid being taxed on its fair market value.” 

At the time, PP&L also tried to send unsolicited political donations to state legislative candidates, state Sen. Jim Elliott of Thompson Falls refused to take the money. It would be interesting to see who has been taking political contributions from Charter and Verizon, the corporations the most recent examples of this kind of despicable behavior. 

PP&L Corp Among American Tradition Partnership Bankrollers

Today, PBS and ProPublica have posted the contents of the American Tradition Partnership’s bank records, which include some donor records from the 2010 election cycle. A Montana judge ordered that the information be made public last week.  Among the groups funders is Pennsylvania Power & Light, or PP&L as it likes to be known in Montana (to eliminate the need to remind people where it is headquartered.)

Other ATP financial backers include:

  • TEA Party billionaire Ray Thompson, of Kalispell ($10,000)
  • John Sinrud, of Bozeman
  • Intermountain Rural Electric Association ($25,000)
  • Former TEA Party Legislator Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman)
  • Montana and Wyoming Oil Company
  • Flathead Timber, of Whitefish
  • Dan O’Neil Construction, of Billings
  • Soby Construction, of Bozeman
  • Raemaeker Insurance, of Choteau
  • Livingston developer Peter Mackenzie (various checks, thousands)
  • T. Baird Construction, Big Timber
  • developer Gateway Village LLC, Bozeman
  • Jason Theilman, Steve Daines campaign manager
  • GOP Senator Bruce Tutvedt (R-Kalispell)
  • Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill (Apple Gilroy Inc.)
  • Big Timber TEA Partier Bob Faw
  • AAON Inc.($20 k)
  • K12 Management Inc. Catholic religious private school corporation, Washington D.C. ($20k)
  • Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce PAC
  • Taxpayers for Liberty, Andrew J. O’Neill ($4k)
  • TEA Party Rep. Dan Kennedy (R-Laurel), Campaign account
  • Colorado Mine Association ($25k)

–and many others.

I haven’t had time to go through all the documents, but Cowgirl readers can do so here.  It should be most interesting to see what people find. This information is from the 2010 cycle only, not 2012.

False Pretenses

The Great Corette Cover-up

There is a giant fiction, a myth, being perpetrated by the Republicans and by PP&L (the big national power generating company) during this campaign season. They are trying persuade voters that the closure of a coal-fired plant in Billings, the Corette Power Plant, is due to new EPA mercury standards.  Supposedly, the fiction goes, these standards are just too onerous and forced PP&L to shut down the plant.

It fits nicely into the GOP’s “too many regulations are killing jobs,” but is nonsense. PP&L has announced plans to shut down the plant in 2015 because they are now able to generate power at a fraction of the rate by using natural gas, which is cheaper now than it has been in 20 years and much cheaper than coal. PP&L provides power wholesale to utility companies like Northwestern Energy who then sell it retail to consumers.  PP&L benefits financially by generating its power as cheaply as possible.

PP&L has actually stated in its own SEC filings that the coal plant is closing because power can be generated more cheaply with PPL’s natural gas plants.

Nevertheless, Republicans and conservative blogs have seized on the recent claims by PP&L that it is shutting down the Billings Corette Power Plant due to mercury regulations and, of all things, wind energy tax credits.

Never mind that mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs brain development in fetuses (so much for that ‘pro-life’ stance.)  And never mind that Mercury in fish from Montana lakes and streams is now a big problem in Montana–even in areas like Glacier National Park.  What’s more important is that PP&L, a corporation that supports mostly Republicans in Congress and in Montana, use this economic situation as a way to make up fake claims about “regulations killing jobs.”  That’s corporate America for you.

Indeed, PP&L has contributed $10,000 to Denny Rehberg, and millions to conservative candidates.