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Rate decreases likely for AR ratepayers

Early calculations are coming in but how much Arkansas ratepayers may save on future bills remains unclear.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

A reduction in what you pay to light, heat and cool your home is on the way.

But how much of a reduction remains unclear.

When congress lowered the corporate tax rate in December many companies awarded bonuses to employees.

If you didn't get one...don't worry. There may still be some tax-reduction savings coming your way.

In 1986 the corporate tax rate was cut from 48 to 34 percent. And because utilities pass on the taxes they pay into the rates that you pay...a tax break for them turned into a rate decrease for ratepayers.

The same will occur this year.

So...how much of a break will ratepayers get?

"I don't have enough information yet...we just got the information yesterday,” says John Bethel, Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. “I don't have enough confidence to give you a very reliable estimate."

If Entergy, Centerpoint, SWEPCO or other utilities want to raise the rates charged to consumers such plans must be first submitted to and approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

And when a rate decrease is required because of a major corporate tax cut...those plans with figures must also be submitted.

When the corporate tax rate was recently cut from 35 to 21 percent utilities started doing the math. Initial numbers were submitted on Monday...but the key figures are redacted. The utilities call the calculations "highly sensitive protected information."

"Hopefully it will work out to where it will help offset other increases that customers may experience and it also may contribute to reducing their bills ultimately," says Bethel.

Don't expect a huge windfall. In Illinois one utility has calculated that the tax-cut will save the average residential consumer two to three dollars per month.

And there is no incentive for the utilities to delay. Any rate reductions will be applied retroactively to January 1st.

Air date: February 13th, 2018

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