Mississippi residents could soon find out how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact their utility bills.
The tax overhaul, which became law on Dec. 22, includes a reduction in public utilities’ tax rate. Under the previous corporate tax rate, utility companies were expected to pay a 35 percent tax rate. Once the act became law, that rate was lowered to 21 percent.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to kick off a 30-day period for any utility it has rate jurisdiction over — such as Entergy Mississippi, Mississippi Power Co., CenterPoint Energy, C Spire, Atmos Energy and rural telephone companies — to submit plans on how they will credit those tax deductions and rebates to their customers.
“All rate-regulated utilities are impacted,” Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley said during Tuesday’s meeting. “This would begin the dialog of how … we treat these credits.”
The Public Service Commission however, cannot adopt rules regulating the rates of nonprofit water utility associations and corporations.
The Public Service Commission in a statement last week said investor-owned utilities pass their federal income tax charges along to their customers as a cost of providing service. Thus, all tax cut savings going to for-profit public utilities under the act should mean rate decreases for their customers.
“Simply put, this tax reduction means a rate reduction for ratepayers,” Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton said in a statement last week. “And keeping more money in the pockets of Mississippians is a good thing.”
Also, on Tuesday, the Public Service Commission approved rate changes for Entergy Corp. and Mississippi Power Co.
On the western half of the state, the typical Entergy Mississippi customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month can expect to see their monthly bills go up about $10.37 per month due to fuel costs, among other things, as listed in the utility’s cost-adjustment plan for 2018, filings said.
Last January, Entergy customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month saw rates rise about about $7 more per month compared to 2016.
Also due to fuel costs, Mississippi Power ratepayers from Meridian to the Gulf Coast will see rates rise $0.03 per kilowatt hour, or 4 percent, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that electric cooperatives are among utility companies that will be required to submit rate-reduction plans to regulators.