Indiana Residents Will Get Stuck with Higher Utility Bills Due to Biden Corporate Tax Rate Hike

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Posted by John Kartch on Sunday, May 2nd, 2021, 10:30 AM PERMALINK

If Biden and the Democrats enact a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to explain why they just increased your utility bills

If President Biden and congressional Democrats hike the corporate income tax rate, Indiana households and businesses will get stuck with higher utility bills. Democrats plan to impose a corporate income tax rate increase to 28%, even higher than communist China's 25%. This does not even include state corporate income taxes, which average 4 - 5% nationwide.

Customers bear the cost of corporate income taxes imposed on utility companies. Corporate income tax cuts drive utility rates down, corporate income tax hikes drive utility rates up.

Electric, gas, and water companies must get their billing rates approved by the respective state utility commissions. When the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, utility companies worked with officials to pass along the tax savings to customers, including at least 17 Indiana utilities.

Working with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy Indiana, Indiana-Michigan Power, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc., Midwest Natural Gas Corporation, Fountaintown Gas Company, Inc., South Eastern Indiana Natural Gas Company, Inc., American Suburban Utilities, Inc., Indiana American Water, Ohio Valley Gas Corporation, Indianapolis Power & Light, Aqua Indiana, Inc., Boonville Natural Gas Corporation, Community Natural Gas Company, L.M.H. Utilities Corporation, Indiana Natural Gas Corporation, and Indiana Utilities Corporation passed along tax savings to their customers. 

Aqua Indiana, Inc.: As noted in this May 16, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order

The tax rate embedded in the utility's recurring rates is 35%. The utility requests to reduce its recurring rates to reflect the new 21 % tax rate per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Duke Energy Indiana: As noted in this  June 28, 2018, Inside Indiana article excerpt:

Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana has reached a settlement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and other parties regarding the disbursement of savings to customers from the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The utility says customers will receive approximately $142 million in annual savings.

The OUCC says when the legislation went into effect in January, the federal tax rate for most investor-owned utilities fell from 35 percent to 21 percent. As a result, the average residential customer will see their monthly bill reduced by about 5 percent, or $7.33, in 2018.

"The federal tax act is an opportunity for us to lower customer bills and help offset future rising costs," said Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd. "We’ve reached an agreement to pass along tax savings embedded in our electric rates over the next two years. It’s a constructive agreement that reduces rates while still preserving our credit quality, which is important for keeping customer bills low."

Indiana-Michigan Power: As noted in this May 31, 2018, AP article excerpt:

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved an order Wednesday allowing the Fort Wayne-based company to boost its Indiana customers’ rates about 7.3 percent, allowing it to raise $96.8 million in new revenue.

The Journal Gazette reports Indiana Michigan Power had initially sought a 20 percent rate increase to generate $263 million in new revenue.

That was reduced under a settlement between the company, Indiana’s state consumer advocate and several cities, companies and advocacy groups.

Some of the decrease was also attributed to the recent federal tax cuts.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company: As noted in this wane.com article excerpt:

Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. announced Monday it was changing its request that was submitted in September to the state utility commission. The change reduces the rate increase NIPSCO is seeking from nearly 23 percent to about 19 percent.

The company says that would mean about $26 million less a year in increased billing charges to its some 820,000 gas customers.

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc.: As noted in this June 1, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filing

Vectren North shall return the Tax Regulatory Liability to its retail customers through a separate component (the “Tax Refund Credit”) to be established in Cause No. 44430 TDSIC 9 to be initiated by October 2, 2018. The Tax Refund Credit shall be designed to return the Tax Regulatory Liability to customers over a six month period and be incorporated into Vectren North’s Compliance and System Improvement Adjustment (“CSIA”) mechanism. As the amounts recorded for the Tax Regulatory Liability are captured by Rate Schedule by taking the change in base rates multiplied by the actual throughput for this period, Vectren North will refund the Tax Regulatory Liability by Rate Schedule. Vectren North shall provide the other Settling Parties workpapers demonstrating the calculation of the Tax Refund Credit within the CSIA by August 2, 2018. Any over- or under-recovery associated with the Tax Refund Credit will be captured within subsequent  CSIA filings as a CSIA variance

Midwest Natural Gas Corporation: As noted in this June 19, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filing

Midwest is proposing a volumetric refund to customers that is class specific. We believe the refund should occur in the same four calendar months, of 2019, it was created in 2018. This gives us the best opportunity to refund the over collection back to the customers that created it, generally in proportion to their contribution. Spreading it over all 12 calendar months tends to favor industrial customers with a significant summer base load over the weather-sensitive customers that helped create the refund. The refund will be divided over the GCA estimated sales volumes, which are generally based upon the average of several years. At the end of April 2019, we would reconcile the refund dollars, with any differences being included in GCA variances at that time. 

Fountaintown Gas Company, Inc.: As noted in this November 2, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filing: 

Fountaintown has proposed to refund the over collection of tax funds from January 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018 by refunding $81,293. Fountaintown has proposed that such refund occur through a tracking mechanism that will begin in January 2019 and run through April 30, 2019 in order to refund the over collection as closely as possible to the customers by class who paid such over collection. The OUCC agrees to both the amount and the proposed tracker mechanism. Based on the evidence of record, we find that the over collection between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2018 in the amount of $$81,293 should be refunded to the customer classes as proposed by Fountaintown. This refund of over collected tax dollars will begin in January 2019 and run through April 30, 2019 in order to more closely match the refund to the customer who provided such funds. 

South Eastern Indiana Natural Gas Company, Inc.: As noted in this May 17, 2019 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission memorandum:

South Eastern requests to revise portions of its IURC No. G-11 tariff to reflect the amortization of $176,222 in Excess Accumulated Deferred Income Taxes over 19.65 years as a result of the Commission’s investigation into the impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the subsequent Order in Cause No. 45032 S13. The rate adjustment will result in $8,968 being amortized annually and will lead to a $12,324 annual reduction to South Eastern’s revenue requirement after being adjusted for taxes and fees.

American Suburban Utilities, Inc.: As noted in this December 10, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filing

The rate reduction took effect for all bills that were rendered on July 1, 2018. Accordingly, there are five months for which service was billed after the tax cut at the prior rates, because ASU bills in arrears. He provided a total estimated deferred liability of $79,042.72. ASU proposed to divide this amount by 3 and for each of the first three months after the Phase 3 tariff in Cause No. 44676 is effective, to provide a bill credit equaling one-third of the deferred liability. In this way, the Phase 3 tariff will step in over four months rather than one. He testified that ASU expected to file the Phase 3 tariff before the end of 2018, but that if for some reason the tariff had not been submitted before March 31, 2019, ASU would file a tariff to reflect a one-time credit to exhaust all of the deferred liability in a single month. 

Indiana American Water: As noted in this June 26, 2020 Indiana American Water press release

Indiana American Water announced today that its water customers across the state will soon start seeing lower monthly bills. The decrease, which amounts to approximately $1.04 per month (2.77 percent) for a residential customer using 4,000 gallons per month, is the result of the resolution of certain accounting issues related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.

Ohio Valley Gas Corporation: As noted in this November 15, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission filing

The Parties have agreed that OVG should pay the excess accumulated deferred amount of $4,012, 142 to its customers over 34.25 years based on the average rate assumption method ("ARAM"). The first such refund payments will be reflected on customer bills starting January 1, 2019. Consistent with ARAM, the amount of the annual payment will vary each year and be implemented through a separate adjustment to OVG's volumetric rates for utility service ("EDIT Tracker") based on customer allocations and rate design approved in OVG's most recent base 2 rate case. The baseline EDIT Tracker for each of the next 35 calendar years is shown on the attached Exhibit A titled "EDIT Annual Amounts to be Returned." These baseline trackers will be further adjusted by February 15 of each year after 2019 to true-up the amounts returned the previous year in comparison to the target amount on which the EDIT Tracker for that previous year was based. 

Indianapolis Power & Light: As noted in this October 31, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission press release

Today, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued an Order in the Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) rate case, Cause Number 45029. The Order included the Commission’s approval of a settlement agreement filed by most of the parties involved in the case. In the Order, the Commission authorized the utility to implement rates designed to produce additional annual revenue of approximately $43.877 million. The utility’s original request was for $124.491 million. In February 2018, IPL lowered its request from the original $124.491 million to $96.731 million following the passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). As stated in the approved settlement agreement, IPL will also provide an additional credit of $14.3 million to customers over two years to reflect the impact of the TCJA on IPL’s current rates for the period before new base rates go into effect. The Commission has previously approved a $9.51 million credit in the specific tax investigation case for this utility.

Boonville Natural Gas Corporation: As noted in this April 30, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order

Boonville requests to revise portions of its IURC No. G-3 tariff reflecting the new tax rate applicable to Boonville as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for all affected rates and charges in its IURC No. G-3 tariffs. 

Community Natural Gas Company: As noted in this April 30, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order:

Community requests to revise portions of its IURC No. G-4 tariff reflecting the new tax rate applicable to Community as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for all affected rates and charges in its IURC No. G-4 tariffs. 

L.M.H. Utilities Corporation: As noted in this June 13, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order:

The tax rate embedded in the utility's recurring rates is 28.91 %. The utility requests to reduce its recurring rates to reflect the new 21 % tax rate per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Indiana Natural Gas Corporation: As noted in this April 30, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order:

Indiana Natural requests to revise portions of its IURC No. G-3 tariff reflecting the new tax rate applicable to Indiana Natural as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for all affected rates and charges in its IURC No. G-3 tariffs. 

Indiana Utilities Corporation: As noted in this April 30, 2018 Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order:

Indiana Utilities requests to revise portions of its IURC No. G-12 Tariff for Gas Service reflecting the new tax rate applicable to Indiana Utilities as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of2017 for all affected rates and charges in its IURC No. G-12 Tariff for Gas Service.

Conversely, a vote for a corporate income tax rate hike is a vote for higher utility bills as households recover from the pandemic.

Many small businesses operate on tight margins and can't afford higher heating, cooling, gas, and refrigeration costs. President Biden should withdraw his tax increases.

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