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AG: Utilities must pass tax cuts on to NC consumers

Posted December 9, 2014

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— Attorney General Roy Cooper has appealed a decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission that resulted in some utilities benefiting from corporate state income tax cuts without passing the savings along to consumers.

“Lower overall taxes paid by utilities should mean more money in consumers’ pockets,” Cooper said in a statement. “Instead, utilities can pocket the tax savings while most families, small businesses and other utility customers see higher taxes on their power bills, and that’s not right.”

The lower income tax rate is part of the tax reform package the General Assembly passed in 2013. The package also raised taxes paid by consumers on their utility bills.

In May, the Utilities Commission determined that it had the authority "to reduce utility rates to reflect income tax rate changes," Cooper said. But the panel reversed itself in October, after Dominion North Carolina Power and Public Service Company of North Carolina challenged that stance. In a 4-3 decision, the commission, without further hearings, decided that it could not lower customers’ rates to reflect lower taxes paid by utilities.

“[U]tility shareholders were allowed to pocket the cost savings associated with the reduced state corporate income taxes while most customer bills increased from the combined effect of the other tax changes," the Attorney General's Office said in its Monday filing with the state Court of Appeals.

Dominion is currently the only utility that says it intends to keep the proceeds from the commission's October ruling.

The appeal alleges that the commission changed its decision without giving proper notice or any opportunity for a hearing, which would be a violation of state law and due process. He also contends that the commission wrongly used the same law and facts cited in its May decision to reach a different conclusion in October without any change in circumstances or public interest that would trigger a need to revisit the initial ruling.

Cooper has successfully fought rate increases by utilities in recent years, arguing that the Utilities Commission didn't factor in the impact of high rates on consumers still struggling after the recession.

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  • Tammy Rush Dec 10, 2014
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    Wow.

  • jimcricket15 Dec 10, 2014

    No reason the power companies should have to pass along the tax savings. This is their money. Unfortunately Cooper like most DEMS does not believe any money is YOUR money. For him ALL money is Government money and any he would allow you to keep you must spend as he determines not as you determine. Sort of like ObamaCare where you no longer get the option to pick the insurance you need, nope you have to buy what Obama and the DEMS say you need or face the extortion of a fine.

  • Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance Dec 10, 2014

    So corporate taxes were CUT and the companies do not want to pass the savings onto their customers as long promised nor are they ‘creating jobs’ with this extra money?!? Please don’t tell the GOP as this very thin promise is half of their party line ;)

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 10, 2014

    I certainly hope he wins the appeal, but the last time he won, the Utilities Com. didn't follow the court ruling and just igorned it. I guess we get what we vote in.