In this Feb. 15, 2012 file photo, cooling towers for units 1 and 2 are seen at left as the new reactor vessel bottom head for unit 3 stands under construction at right at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga.
An attorney for Georgia Power told an appeals court panel Tuesday that the utility has no choice but to charge sales taxes and fees on a monthly nuclear expansion surcharge customers are paying.
Two former high-profile politicians — former Gov. Roy Barnes and ex-House Speaker Glenn Richardson — filed a lawsuit to block the taxes and fees added to the surcharge, contending they have cost customers more than $100 million.
But Georgia Power attorney William Droze told the three-judge panel the surcharge is part of the price of electricity, which is subject to sales tax in Georgia.
Georgia Power wants the Georgia Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuit. A Fulton Superior Court judge refused to do so.
The suit contends Georgia Power is illegally adding sales taxes and fees to the approved surcharge, which was added in early 2011 to pay financing costs of the utility’s $6.1 billion portion of a project to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in east Georgia.
“Do you have to charge sales tax on an assessment that is [passed on to customers]?” argued Barnes, a Mableton lawyer and Democrat.
Droze noted that the sales tax goes to the state.
Barnes and Richardson, a Republican from Dallas, filed the lawsuit on behalf of customers. The two spent the morning in court on the day Richardson was hoping to be reelected to public office, this time to the state senate.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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