Attorney General Asks for Rate Reductions at 5 Utilities

Weeks after Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony called for rate reductions at utilities because of the new tax reforms, Attorney General Mike Hunter took action to do just that.

Hunter filed five motions with the Commission asking for an immediate reduction in customer rates from the state’s leading utility companies. His move came after Commissioner Anthony made such a call in November, as reported by OK Energy Today.

“These companies will begin seeing major savings after the tax cut is implemented on Monday,” said Hunter in announcing the move. “Oklahomans who are customers of these companies should immediately retain the benefits of the savings from the tax cut in the form of lower rates.”

He estimates the savings for the five corporations will be nearly $100 million not including savings from other affected utility accounts.

The overhaul of federal income taxes will take effect Jan. 1. It lowers the highest corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and Hunter wants those savings passed to consumers. The five motions apply to Oklahoma Gas and Electric, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Natural Gas, CenterPoint Energy and Arkansas Oklahoma Gas.

His motions request customer rates be reduced by an amount reflecting lower federal corporate income tax rates.

“We urge the OCC to act quickly and in the best interests of customers, not company shareholders,” said Hunter. The Attorney General is also asking the Corporation Commission to protect the ability of customers to get excess accumulated deferred income tax which is used to reflect utility companies’ past use of tax breaks to defer tax bills. With the lower tax rates, a part of accumulated deferred income tax would be unnecessary to cover future taxes—creating an “excess” portion.

“There is no reason to delay creating a regulatory liability for excess accumulated deferred income tax,” said Hunter in the motions. “Without doing so, customers may permanently lose the benefits of any portion of excess accumulated deferred income tax drawn down during the pendency of this cause.”

Hunter estimates corporate tax savings for OGE will be nearly $52 million. Public Service Company will have estimated savings at $24 million while ONG’s will total about $20 million.

CenterPoint Energy’s savings will total about $859,000 while those for Arkansas Oklahoma Gas will be around $270,000.

A Corporation Corporation hearing will be held Jan. 4.




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