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NJ board issues orders for rate reductions at 16 utilities due to tax reform

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on March 26 approved orders that reduce rates at nine water utilities and seven gas and electric utilities in light of federal tax reform.

President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017, signed the federal tax overhaul, which reduces the maximum corporate tax rate to 21% from 35% for the 2018 tax year. In light of the new law, utilities across the nation have been working with state commissions to evaluate how lower tax expenses should be handled and issue potential refunds for overcollection of taxes to customers.

The board approved a total of $56 million in rate reduction for water utility customers and a total of $215 million for electric and gas customers, the Board of Public Utilities said in a release. For water utilities, the orders apply to New Jersey American Water Co.; Atlantic City Sewerage; Aqua New Jersey Inc.; Environmental Disposal Corp.; Middlesex Water Company; Gordon's Corner Water; and SUEZ SA affiliates SUEZ Water New Jersey Inc., SUEZ Water Toms River and SUEZ Water Arlington Hills.

The electric and gas orders apply to New Jersey Natural Gas Co.; FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary Jersey Central Power & Light Co.; Southern Co. subsidiary Elizabethtown Gas Company Inc.; Consolidated Edison Inc. affiliate Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc.; Exelon Corp. subsidiary Atlantic City Electric Co.; and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.'s gas and electric utility Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

"Todays action by the board ensures that customers will reap the benefits of lower federal taxes for utility companies," board President Joseph Fiordaliso said in a statement.

The latest action is in response to the board's Jan. 31 order requiring certain utilities to amend their tariffs to reflect lower federal tax rates.