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How will customers benefit from tax overhaul, Michigan asks utilities

Utility companies have been called on to file comments on how they plan to return "significant" savings to consumers, a state commission said.

By Daniel J. Graeber
How will customers benefit from tax overhaul, Michigan asks utilities
A state commission in Michigan wants utility companies to report on how they'll return savings from the federal tax overhaul to consumers. File photo by Reinhard Tiburzy/Shutterstock

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Utility companies in Michigan are being called to report the benefits from the federal tax overhaul and how consumers can benefit, a state commission said.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code before leaving for end-of-year holiday season at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last week. The measure extends temporary relief to American taxpayers and permanent breaks for corporations, with oil, gas and utility companies sharing the gains.

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The Michigan Public Service Commission called on state utility companies to report on the impacts of the federal tax law by Jan. 19. Commission Chair Sally Talberg said the new law means big relief for utilities, so the state wants to know about the impact on customers.

"The information we receive in this docket will be incredibly useful in understanding the magnitude of the expected reduction in federal taxes that the utilities pay, which is likely to be significant," Commissioner Rachael Eubanks added in the emailed order to utility companies. "It will also provide broader input regarding the appropriate avenue for how to extend benefits to customers."

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The commission two years ago authorized utility Consumers Energy Company to increase its electric rates by more than $1.00 on monthly consumer bills while the state worked to retire aging coal-fired power plants and adopt new natural gas options.

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The new order from the commission says the utility companies need to file comments on how they plan to return savings from federal tax relief on to consumers.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Attorney General Bill Schuette, named as a possible gubernatorial candidate, were quoted by The Detroit Free Press as saying before Trump signed the tax bill that it would extend support to American families. Snyder told the Gongwer News Service after the signing he now opposes the measure because it didn't "meet his benchmarks of simple, fair and fiscally responsible."

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