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PUC seeks input on tax law's impact on utilities, ratepayers

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The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said last week it is requesting data from certain regulated utilities as it tries to figure out how recent federal tax reforms will affect what homeowners and businesses pay for electricity, natural gas, water and other utility services.

The request for input is the first definitive move by the PUC in the process of determining the effect of a lower corporate tax rate on utilities' bottom lines and, in turn, consumers' bills. The agency also is seeking comments from interested parties. 

The state agency began in January to examine the impact of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December. The law lowered the corporate federal tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. 

Spurred by the tax cuts, some utilities around the country proposed rate cuts for consumers, the Business Journal reported in January. Pennsylvania companies, however, are waiting for the PUC's word to take any action. 

The data requested from utilities is described in detail in a secretarial letter dated February 12. The goal is to determine the scope and method of potential rate adjustments, said PUC press secretary Nils Hagen-Frederiksen.

The comment period will last 25 days from the date of the letter, and the PUC plans to act in as timely a manner as possible to move the analysis process forward after that, according to Hagen-Frederiksen. No other deadlines have been set, he added.

"There's going to be a lot of time needed for our technical staff to digest the feedback," Hagen-Frederiksen said.

The PUC will also examine the effect of the new tax law on telecommunications and other smaller utilities not listed in its initial request.

This story has been updated with comments from Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, PUC press secretary.

Secretarial letter from PUC by Becca Oken-Tatum on Scribd

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Becca Oken-Tatum

Becca Oken-Tatum

Becca Oken-Tatum is the web editor for the Central Penn Business Journal. She also coordinates and writes for CPBJ's monthly Young Professionals e-newsletter. Email her questions, comments and tips at btatum@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter at @becca0t.

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