Energy tax averages $8-$12 a month CLINTON'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM

February 18, 1993|By Peter Honey | Peter Honey,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's new energy tax -- a compendium of levies on the heat content of oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectricity -- would barely be noticed at first.

Four years from now, it could cost the average American family between $8 and $12 a month; or considerably less if the government's attempt to change the nation's energy habits pays off.

Based on current energy use, a Maryland family with one car could expect to pay between $96 and $118 a year more for gasoline and utilities by July 1996, when the tax is fully implemented, based on figures provided by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and the Federal Highway Administration and the Energy Department.

Energy Department officials suggest that the cost could be even less for the average one-car household: around $90, according to their figures.

If enacted by Congress, the program would eventually raise gasoline prices by about 7.5 cents a gallon; home-heating oil by 8.25 cents; natural gas by 8.75 cents per thousand cubic feet, and the average monthly electric bill by $2.25, officials said.

One-third of the tax would be imposed July 1, 1994; it would become fully effective two years later.

There will be hidden costs, too, in the form of gradual price increases for food and other consumer items.

The energy tax is based on the heating potential of various sources of energy, measured in terms of the British thermal unit (BTU).

Marylanders used an average 839 gallons of gasoline per car in 1991. As one gallon of gasoline contains 125,000 BTUs, with a final oil tax of 59.9 cents per million BTU, the extra cost to a driver would be almost $63 a year.

According to figures provided by BG&E, the state's largest utility expects its electricity and gas customers to pay $33 to $55 a year more by July 1996.

Those using electricity only could expect to pay between $5 and $10 a year more.

Different fuel sources have different energy potencies. The tax on coal, natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectric energy would amount to 25.7 cents per one million BTUs. An additional NTC "national security tax" of 34.2 cents per 1 million BTUs would be imposed on crude oil, raising the total oil tax to 59.9 cents per million BTUs.

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