- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission lets utilities keep some corporate tax revenue they collect from customers, even though the rate has dropped.

The Commission voted 4-3 last week to allow utilities to keep the difference, The News & Observer by Raleigh (https://bit.ly/1xSuQuc) reported. The majority said that state law does not allow the commission to adjust utility rates for corporate income taxes.

North Carolina lawmakers cut the corporate income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5 percent.

Three Democratic appointees on the commission call the decision a corporate windfall.

“There is no set end to this over-collection, which will continue indefinitely each year until each utility’s next general rate case,” the three Democrats wrote in a dissenting opinion. “Even then, ratepayers will never be refunded the over-collected funds; the utilities have simply been afforded an unearned gain at the expense of North Carolina ratepayers.”

The decision was requested by Dominion North Carolina Power and PSNC Energy.

Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress are giving customers the savings. But utilities have until Oct. 24 to decide if they will adjust their rates.

The amounts involved are negligible on monthly utility bills but total $21 million a year for the four utilities.

If Duke changed billing practices to conform with the latest ruling, Duke Energy customers would pay 17 cents a month extra, and Duke Progress customers would pay 9 cents a month more, said company spokeswoman Lisa Parrish.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat expected to run for governor in 2016, plans to appeal the commission’s ruling to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The North Carolina Public Staff, an independent agency that represents utility customers, is considering an appeal, agency director Chris Ayers said.

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Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com

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