/State regulators want utilities to pass tax cut savings on to customers

State regulators want utilities to pass tax cut savings on to customers

Dec. 22 was the date of the tax overhaul. It includes a reduction of the tax rate for public utilities. Utility companies used to be subject to a 35% tax rate under the old corporate tax rate. This rate was reduced to 21 percent after the act became law. On Tuesday, the Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously voted to open a 30-day period to any utility that it has rate jurisdiction over, such as Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co., CenterPoint Energy and C Spire Energy, Atmos Energy and rural phone companies. This allows them to submit plans for how they will credit their customers with tax deductions or rebates. At Tuesday’s meeting, Brandon Presley, Chairman of the Public Service Commission said that all rate-regulated utilities were affected. “This would open the door to a dialogue about how… we treat these credits.” However, the Public Service Commission cannot regulate the rates of non-profit water utility corporations and associations. In a statement, the Public Service Commission stated last week that investor-owned utilities charge federal income taxes to customers in order to provide service. According to the act, any tax savings that go to for-profit public utility companies should result in rate reductions for their customers. Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton stated that the tax cut means a reduction in ratepayers. “And keeping more money into the pockets of Mississippians” is the goal of Entergy. A typical Entergy Mississippi customer who uses 1,000 kilowatts per month can expect their monthly bills to increase by $10.37 due to fuel costs. The utility’s cost-adjustment plans for 2018 also state that rates will rise about $7 per month. Entergy customers who used 1,000 kilowatts per month in January 2016 saw their rates increase by $7 per month. According to an Associated Press report, Mississippi Power ratepayers will see their rates rise $0.03 per kilowatthour, or 4 percent, due to rising fuel costs.