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

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Posted by John Kartch, Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, 8:35 AM PERMALINK

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

If President Biden and Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow hike the corporate income tax rate, Michigan households and businesses will get stuck with higher utility bills as the country tries to recover from the pandemic.

Democrats plan to impose a corporate income tax rate increase to 26.5%, even higher than communist China's 25% and higher than the developed world average of 23.5%. 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 state officials to pass along the tax savings to customers, including at least nine Michigan utilities.

The savings typically come in the form of a rate reduction, a bill credit, or a reduction to an existing or planned rate increase. 

According to a report published in the trade publication Utility Dive, customers nationwide were to receive a $90 billion utility benefit from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Estimates derived from 2017 annual SEC 10-K filings indicate that the 14-percentage-point reduction in the corporate tax rate enacted under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) resulted in investor-owned utilities establishing significant regulatory liability balances, totaling approximately $90 billion to be refunded back to customers.

Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a 90-second nationwide utility savings video from local news reports which may be viewed here.

If Democrats now impose a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to reckon with local news coverage noting utility bills are going up. A vote for a corporate income tax hike is a vote for higher utility bills as households try to recover from the pandemic.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Impact: Working with the Michigan Public Service Commission, Alpena Power Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC), Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, ITC Holdings Corporation and Upper Peninsula Power Company passed along tax savings to their customers.

Alpena Power Co.: As noted in a May 30, 2018 Michigan Public Service Commission press release:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved settlement agreements with seven utilities to pass on to ratepayers their savings from the federal tax law rewrite, beginning in July. Three other utilities had no impact from the changes.

Filings were approved for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC).

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"Through swift action by the Commission, Michigan ratepayers will experience millions of dollars in refunds on their utility bills starting this summer due to changes in federal corporate income taxes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Utilities are benefiting from the tax cuts and their customers should, too.”

Michigan Gas Utilities Corp.: As noted in a May 30, 2018 Michigan Public Service Commission press release:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved settlement agreements with seven utilities to pass on to ratepayers their savings from the federal tax law rewrite, beginning in July. Three other utilities had no impact from the changes.

Filings were approved for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC).

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"Through swift action by the Commission, Michigan ratepayers will experience millions of dollars in refunds on their utility bills starting this summer due to changes in federal corporate income taxes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Utilities are benefiting from the tax cuts and their customers should, too.”

Northern States Power: As noted in a May 30, 2018 Michigan Public Service Commission press release:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved settlement agreements with seven utilities to pass on to ratepayers their savings from the federal tax law rewrite, beginning in July. Three other utilities had no impact from the changes.

Filings were approved for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC).

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"Through swift action by the Commission, Michigan ratepayers will experience millions of dollars in refunds on their utility bills starting this summer due to changes in federal corporate income taxes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Utilities are benefiting from the tax cuts and their customers should, too.”

SEMCO Energy Gas Co.: As noted in a May 30, 2018 Michigan Public Service Commission press release:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved settlement agreements with seven utilities to pass on to ratepayers their savings from the federal tax law rewrite, beginning in July. Three other utilities had no impact from the changes.

Filings were approved for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC).

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"Through swift action by the Commission, Michigan ratepayers will experience millions of dollars in refunds on their utility bills starting this summer due to changes in federal corporate income taxes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Utilities are benefiting from the tax cuts and their customers should, too.”

Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC): As noted in a May 30, 2018 Michigan Public Service Commission press release:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved settlement agreements with seven utilities to pass on to ratepayers their savings from the federal tax law rewrite, beginning in July. Three other utilities had no impact from the changes.

Filings were approved for Alpena Power Co., DTE Gas Co., Michigan Gas Utilities Corp., Northern States Power, SEMCO Energy Gas Co., and Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC).

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"Through swift action by the Commission, Michigan ratepayers will experience millions of dollars in refunds on their utility bills starting this summer due to changes in federal corporate income taxes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. “Utilities are benefiting from the tax cuts and their customers should, too.”

Consumers Energy: As noted in January 19, 2018 Consumers Energy press release:

Consumers Energy today issued the following statement from President & CEO Patti Poppe:

‘Today, Consumers Energy was pleased to submit a proposal to the Michigan Public Service Commission that would lower customer bills starting in 2018 by approximately $200 million, as a result of the recent federal tax reform changes. We are thrilled to be able to pass along 100 percent of the savings from tax reform to the people we are privileged to serve. This underscores our commitment to people, planet and prosperity for all of Michigan.’”

DTE Energy: As noted in this January 23, 2018 DTE Energy press release:

DTE Energy issued the following statement regarding the impacts of H.R.1, the Tax and Jobs Act.

"The recent passage of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will offer benefits to energy customers across the country – including DTE’s utility customers here in Michigan. The reduction of the corporate tax rate will result in lower bills for DTE’s 2.2 million electric and 1.3 million gas customers.

“In 2018, a savings of nearly $190 million will be passed along to customers. 

“As this tax reduction works through the regulatory process, our average electric and gas customers will see a reduction in their rates of about 3 percent. The reduction in rates due to the tax law change will be a significant infusion into the Michigan economy as our customers will enjoy this benefit for years to come.”

ITC Holdings Corporation: As noted in this April 2, 2018 ITC Holdings Corporation article excerpt

ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC), the nation's largest independent electricity transmission company, today announced it is reducing its customer rates as a result of the lower federal corporate income tax rate the company received under the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017.

ITC's wholesale electricity customers throughout the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region will see an 8-to-10 percent reduction in transmission rates, retroactive to January 1, 2018, beginning with bills for services provided in March. A similar reduction will be made to ITC's formula rate in the Southwest Power Pool region for future periods, effective back to January 1, 2018. 

Upper Peninsula Power Company: As noted in this April 2, 2018 WLUC News article excerpt:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was passed into law at the end of 2017, effectively lowering corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 21 percent. Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) is requesting approval of a proposal that would pass along the savings attributable to the TCJA to its customers. UPPCO’s proposal was filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on March 30th as part of the process that is required by the state for determining how the benefits of the TCJA are to be credited to the utility’s customers.

“Under our plan, a typical residential customer consuming 500 kilowatt hours per month will see a reduction of approximately $1.30 on their monthly bills,” said Brett French, Vice-President of Business Development and Communications. “This is in addition to approximately $7 in monthly savings currently being seen by a typical residential customer because of the steps we implemented in January. We anticipate our customers will begin to see the additional savings later this summer after the MPSC approves our plan.” 

Conversely, if Biden and Democrats raise the corporate tax rate, they will add to the burden faced by working families. And any 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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