Maine officials say corporate tax cut should prompt utilities to reduce rates

Maine Officials

say corporate tax cut Should prompt

utilities to reduce rates

State officials say they have launched a two-pronged effort to ensure that savings reaped by Maine utilities from the recently implemented corporate tax cut will be passed on to customers as soon as possible in the form of lower rates.

Still, it will likely take several months for ratepayers in Maine to see any reductions to their electricity, water and gas bills, and the amount of those reductions is still unknown.

Unlike other for-profit businesses in the state, regulated utilities are not allowed to simply pocket the excess cash they generate from the corporate tax rate reduction from 35 percent to 21 percent, according to regulators.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission initiated a process this week to determine the impact of the tax cut on the “justness and reasonableness” of rates for each of Maine’s major utilities. At the same time, the state Office of the Public Advocate has signed onto a multistate request for a similar assessment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the federal level.

“We think it’s important that there be what’s known as a true-up, immediately,” said Maine Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, referring to the accounting principle of reconciling two values such as costs and revenues.

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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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