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Power line operator collecting phantom tax

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The company in charge of maintaining power lines throughout Texas is under fire.

Consumer advocates say Oncor has been charging its customers about $30 a year to pay its federal taxes—about $200 million dollars each year—but the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power determined Oncor's parent company hasn't paid taxes since 2008.

R.A. Dyer with Texas Coalition for Affordable Power says Oncor's parent company has not paid federal income taxes the past three years—likely due to mounting losses. It reported a $569 million loss last quarter.

"What's certain is that it is not going to the IRS,” Dyer said. “What is also certain is that folks out in Williamson County and other customers of Oncor are paying this money for federal income taxes for a liability that does not exist."

Oncor Electric Delivery owns the power lines in parts of Travis, Williamson, Bell and McClennan counties.

"The utilities are trying to pull a fast one on Texans. They are trying to bill consumers for taxes they never end up paying," Tom Smith with Public Citizen Texas said.

Dyer says it is unlikely that the Public Utility Commission would take any action to stop Oncor from collecting that tax unless a new rate case was brought before it.

"It would be an enormous windfall for these corporations—many of whom pay absolutely no taxes because of investment decisions made to reduce their tax liability," Smith said.

One bill currently considered by lawmakers would bar the Public Utility Commission from investigating the tax rates that energy companies pay.

Oncor services power customers in Williamson, Bell and McClellan counties who are not associated with a co-op. Austin Energy and other co-op customers aren't affected.

YNN has reached out to Oncor multiple times, but have yet to receive a response.

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