With a tax break, utilities must cut rates to customers?

By a 2-1 vote, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved a plan by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asking for a reduction in customer utility rates from the state’s leading utility companies, after the federal corporate income tax rate went from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Commissioner Bob Anthony voted no because he wanted to see the utility savings immediately returned to customers.

The OCC voted two-to-one, in favor of the attorney general’s alternative proposal, which requires utility companies to begin tracking savings each will receive from the federal income tax cut. The order also instructed companies to create an account for the savings received and refund those savings to customers after a review by the OCC at a later date. Companies must provide the OCC estimates of tax savings within four months.

Commissioners struck down the attorney general’s main recommendation for immediate rate cuts by a two-to-one vote, with Anthony being the only member in favor of the immediate customer rate reduction.

Hunter said he hopes the OCC’s decision will ultimately lead to money back in the pockets of Oklahomans.

“We appreciate the commission acting quickly on our motions,” Hunter said. “While we would have preferred customers see immediate savings, putting the money aside and distributing it at a later date will give Oklahomans future relief.”   Utility companies must begin tracking customer savings immediately.