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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1996
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Recharge the Economy with Renewable Energy Tax Credits

I was amused by your "Headlines" item on the Reason Foundation's study calling for privatization of TVA and the power marketing administrations due to government subsidization and poor management (May 15, 1996, p. 16). If those were the two overriding issues, one could argue in favor of swapping segments and doing something different with the segment that costs the government the most.

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have collected and retained taxes over the years to the tune of $60,075,724,000 (em an annual cost to taxpayers of $5,090,209,000, when figured at an 8.2-percent cost of money. Municipal subsidies enjoy tax-exempt bond issuance, which costs the government $1,172,888,000 per year in lost taxes and interest. Electric cooperatives receive interest-subsidized loans that cost the government the difference between the average rate of 4.3 percent and the 8.2-percent cost of money (em $469,300,000 annually.

The annual cost summary reveals that IOUs receive the largest block of government subsidies. Per customer, munis top out at $92.47, IOUs at $60.17, and cooperatives at $39.48.

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