Delmarva Power said it’s dropping its rate hike request by $26 million because of federal corporate tax breaks.
The move comes after the state’s Public Advocate Drew Slater successfully petitioned to have utility companies pass the savings on to consumers.
Delmarva is now asking for a $17 million rate increase, down from last fall’s ask of about $43 million. It’s currently the only rate increase request before state regulators. Delmarva officials said the drop in its rate hike request means customers can expect to save nearly $3 a month in electric costs and more than $4.50 in monthly winter gas heating bills compared to its original request.
Delaware regulated utilities are allowed to seek rate increases to offset infrastructure investments, but Slater said the extra tax revenue should also help consumers. He compares it to buying a dollar coffee at Wawa with a $20 bill and getting back the change.
“You shouldn’t be you know held by Wawa for future needs or services," he said. "And similarly here I said to the extent that there has been an over collection of taxes, that belongs back to the ratepayer who paid that bill.”
Slater said the amount of public comment and the support of state lawmakers helped make the case for a rate request reduction.
“Usually there aren't very many public comments and we had a dozen," he said. "But also the legislators weighing in with 36 legislators supporting our petition. That was really significant and had a significant impact and so that was that was really incredible.”
State Rep. John Kowalko said Slater deserves praise for fighting for consumers. "At least if you're going to have this type of tax reform put in place, let's make sure we share the wealth with the consumers, with the middle class ratepayers in this place," he said.
State regulators sided with Slater last month - telling all other Delaware utilities benefiting from the new tax breaks to cut rates.
Slater said the companies have until March 31st to identify their cost savings and advance plans to help Delawareans.