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Politics & Government

The federal corporate tax reduction will likely mean lower utility rates

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MDU natural gas customers and Otter Tail Power Company electric customers will see some reductions in their monthly bills, starting March first.

That’s because the investor-owned utilities have started factoring in the effects of the corporate tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. Both utilities were granted interim rate increases while their main rate cases were pending before the Public Service Commission.

In MDU’s case, average gas customers will see their monthly bills drop one dollar, as the utility has filed to roll back its interim increase. MDU had asked for a $5.9 million increase, and the PSC had approved a $4.6 million interim increase. The new interim increase is $2.7 million more than the old rates.

For Otter Tail’s average electric customers, the bills will be about $3.10 less per month. Otter Tail sought a $13.1 million increase, and was granted a $12.8 million interim increase. That interim increase was reduced to $8.3 million over the old rates.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this shows how cutting corporate taxes benefits the average consumer.

"Everybody pays utility fees, whether you're living in an apartment, a single family home or a condominium," Fedorchak said. "Utility rates are reflected in the costs of just about everything we buy. This is a sizeable drop."

Customers of both utilities could also receive refunds for the higher rates they paid since January first, once the PSC comes to final decisions on pending rate cases.

The savings for MDU electric customers, as well as Xcel Energy and Northern Plains Natural Gas customers, are yet to be determined.

"There are a lot of numbers to analyze," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "But it's fair to anticipate there will be savings for all utility customers in North Dakota. We just have to arrive at what the exact numbers will be."

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