SPOKANE, Wash. – Gas and electric bills could see a decrease because of corporate tax cuts.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission required investor owned utility companies to track federal tax savings from the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The federal tax law reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. To ensure those savings will benefit utility customers, the UTC directed companies to report the expected revenue impacts of the tax revisions.
State law authorizes the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to determine how much profit regulated energy, telecom, and water companies can earn and what rates those companies can charge their customers.
According the the UTC, the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate will reduce costs for many of the UTC’s regulated companies.
“UTC staff is still working through the changes brought about by the tax law, but utilities are on notice that we expect customers will reap the benefits," says UTC Chairman Dave Danner.
When one might see savings remains unknown because companies are just now tracking and reporting the expected revenue of the tax revisions. The money companies save because of tax revenue must be in line with commission-set revenue requirements.
Avista customers still may see a hike in rates.They are currently in a pending general rate case with the UTC asking for a three-year rate plan. The company proposed an increase of $61.4 million in electric revenue and a $8.3 million increase in natural gas revenue, for the first year.
Staff members of the UTC recommended denying Avista Utilities’ request to increase electric and natural gas and instead proposed a smaller increase.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has opened a similar investigation. They are requiring regulated utilities to report the financial benefits gained from the tax rate reduction by March 30. According to The Idaho Public Utilities Commission, each report must include proposed tariff schedules to account for the changes in federal tax law.