Montana regulators ask utilities to account for tax cuts

AP

Print Article

HELENA (AP) — Montana regulators want to make sure utility customers benefit from the recently passed tax overhaul that reduces corporate tax rates starting next year.

The Public Service Commission on Wednesday directed regulated utilities to calculate the change in tax liability they expect under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and, by the end of March, offer proposals for how it would apply the savings.

The commission issued the order before the new tax law takes effect to preserve its authority to determine how the additional revenue should be spent, the commission said.

“Our commission is, if not the first, one of early movers on this issue among the 50 state utility commissions in the nation,” said Commissioner Travis Kavulla. “Taking this first step is essential to ensuring that consumers reap the benefits of the tax reform legislation.”

Corporations currently pay a 35 percent tax rate that is passed on to consumers. Under the new tax bill, the rate will be reduced to 21 percent. Commission staff estimated the new tax law will lower taxes on Montana utilities by tens of millions of dollars a year.

“The commission wants to ensure that this money is not simply captured by shareholders, but instead is directed in a way that provides a long-term benefit to the consumer,” Commission Chairman Brad Johnson said in a statement.

NorthWestern Energy’s electric and natural gas utilities are required to make the calculations as is the electric service of Montana-Dakota Utilities. Natural gas utilities under Energy West and MDU will have their rates adjusted for the effect of the new tax law as part of rate cases pending before the PSC, the commission said.

As a nonprofit, Northwest Montana’s member-owned Flathead Electric Cooperative is not regulated by the Public Service Commission.

Commissioner Roger Koopman said utilities “can issue customer refunds, use the money as a source of zero cost financing for capital projects, direct the funds to offset large, unusual expenses or propose some combination of these three applications.

“I suspect the commission will be strongly inclined toward ratepayer refunds,” Koopman said in a statement.

It could be a while before Montana utility customers see rate changes under the new tax law, PSC spokesman Chris Puyear said.

The five-member PSC works to ensure that Montanans receive safe and reliable service from unregulated public utilities at reasonable rates.

Print Article

Read More

Births November NVH

January 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Daily Inter Lake Reid Thomas Maurice, son of Dean and Tara Maurice of Kalsipell, was born Oct. 29 at North Valley Hospital. Reid weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was 22 ½ inches long. He joins Stella and Edie. Pate...

Comments

Read More

Births October NVH

January 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Daily Inter Lake Emelia Ruth Schwegel-King, daughter of Trevor Schwegel and Kassaundra King of Columbia Falls, was born Oct. 11 at North Valley Hospital. Emelia weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20 ¾ inches long. ...

Comments

Read More

DAYBOOK

January 20, 2019 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake TODAY • Glacier Nordic Center offer free trail passes for cross-country skiing, free two-hour rentals, and free classic ski lessons, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Whitefish Lake Golf Course. Call 862-9498. ...

Comments

Read More

Col. Falls considers elementary school proposals

January 20, 2019 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Columbia Falls School District is zeroing in on facility plans for its two elementary schools, which are facing aging infrastructure, building security concerns, and, in some years, overcrowding. La...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

News: (406) 837-5131
Advertising: 406-758-4410
Bigfork Eagle
c/o Daily Inter Lake
PO Box 7610
Kalispell, MT 59904

©2019 Bigfork Eagle Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X