Oklahoma Attorney General continues fight to pass on tax savings to utility customers

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OKLAHOMA CITY –  An Oklahoma official is going to greater lengths to make sure that Oklahomans get a break on their utility bills.

Last month, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed five motions with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to ask for an immediate reduction in customer utility rates from the state’s leading utility companies.

Hunter says the new federal tax reform bill that was signed into law will lower the highest corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, which will save the state’s largest utility providers approximately $100 million.

The estimated savings to each company are as follows:

  • Oklahoma Gas & Electric: $51.7 million
  • Public Service Company of Oklahoma: $24 million
  • Oklahoma Natural Gas: $20 million
  • CenterPoint Energy: $859,000
  • Arkansas Oklahoma Gas: $270,500.

However, Hunter says he wants to make sure that customers benefit from the lowered income tax rates.

“These companies will begin seeing major savings after the tax cut is implemented on Monday,” Attorney General Hunter said. “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. We urge the OCC to act quickly and in the best interests of customers, not company shareholders.”

Data pix.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ultimately voted against immediate rate reductions, but says companies should track the savings to determine rate cuts at a later date.

Now, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking for immediate action to ensure that savings are passed on to customers.

We are asking the commissioners at the FERC to stand behind the agency’s mission to assist consumers in obtaining reliable, sustainable energy at reasonable costs,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The corporate tax cuts have created a dividend for major corporations that should be passed on to customers. We implore the commissioners to act quickly by doing their part at the wholesale level.”

The letter recommends that the FERC lowers utility rates under its jurisdiction as quickly as possible, along with tracking all excess savings from the income tax cut.

“Without prompt action, retail customers will continue paying rates that include excessive, unjust and unreasonable wholesale electricity transmission and gas transportation rates, which they have been paying since the (Tax) Act became effective on Jan. 1,” the letter reads.

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