Department of Energy sued by utilities

Group mounts legal challenge to annual fee that they say amounts to a tax.

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A group of utilities is mounting a legal challenge to an annual fee from the Oregon Department of Energy.

The public utilities content it amounts to a tax.

The utilities contend the assessment is actually a tax, but that neither the Legislature nor the energy department have followed the requirements necessary to impose or increase it, as happened this year.

Those requirements include a three-fifths majority vote on a bill originating in the House of Representatives, as well as a full accounting by the agency of how it will use the money to fund specific programs and activities, the lawsuit alleges.

The utilities asked the Marion County Circuit Court to block the assessment until those requirements are fulfilled, and refund the $6.5 million that was assessed for the first year of the 2015-17 biennium.  


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