HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s not often utility customers see lower rates in their utility bills but it’s happening all across Pennsylvania. Most of the state’s electric, gas and water utilities have been ordered to reduce their rates effective July 1.
When President Trump’s tax plan took effect in January, utility companies experienced a windfall. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, in response the Public Utility Commission ruled utilities cannot keep the profits and must, instead, use the funds to cut customers’ bills.
When it comes to using utilities in her six room house, Geraldine Drozda of Hanover Township tries to conserve. “I cut down on washing clothes. I used to wash often. I’m, maybe, once a week now. And the lights.”
Some good news for her and customers of 17 major utilities in Pennsylvania. The PUC ordered companies like UGI, PPL, Met Ed and Pennsylvania American Water to refund more than $320 million combined per year to their consumers. Mary Ann Beshada of Hanover Township said, “It’s a good feeling to get back for once.”
The rate adjustments taking effect July 1 will mean only small reductions in most customer bills. “It’s a help. Anything is a help, yeah. No matter how little or how big, it’s a help,” said Ms. Beshada.
In acknowledging the rate reduction, UGI Utilities Director of Business Development Don Brominski said, “We know being a utility how important it is to have continuity of utility service so any rate reduction is a great benefit.” Ms. Drozda added, “Especially for us older people, you know on fixed incomes. Every dollar means a lot actually.”
It’s more than just the federal tax relief that’s lowering utility bills. UGI says its gas customers will see savings both in June and December of this year. UGI Utilities Gas Division says its purchased gas cost rates will decrease June 1 by nearly three percent. It anticipates an additional decrease of 9.5 percent December 1 based on cost projections. UGI Penn Natural Gas and UGI Central Penn Gas will also decrease natural gas costs. “Those costs are a pass through to our customers. So whatever it costs us, we pass that along,” said Mr. Brominski.
Ms. Beshada said in the meantime she’ll continue conserving energy to lower her utility bills. “You have to. You have to. And when they help, that’s even better.”
Most of the rate reductions – $210 million worth – apply to electric utilities’ distribution charge. The rate cuts range from .06 percent for PPL customers to 8.6 percent for Met Ed customers. While some utility costs are market based, the bill reduction you get as a result of the Trump tax cuts should last unless the tax code is changed again.