HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Utility companies in Hawaii stand to save tens of millions of dollars under the federal tax overhaul.
And the state Public Utilities Commission wants to see those savings passed on to consumers.
On Friday, the PUC issued an order requiring 46 regulated utilities to document and explain the amount of money they're saving under the new tax structure, which reduces their federal income taxes by 40 percent.
"I think the message to them is look at your books. Look at what you've had to pay had the tax rates not been adjusted downwards and provide that benefit to the consumer," PUC Chairman Randy Iwase told Hawaii News Now.
The order could affect the bills of hundreds of thousands of consumers and some of Hawaii's largest companies, including:
- The Gas Company
- Young Brothers
- The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative
- and Hawaiian Electric Co.
Earlier this month, HECO said its 460,000 customers will see lower bills as a result of the tax cut.
But the company said the amount of the reduction is still being analyzed. Currently, HECO pays about $200 million in federal and state income taxes.
Consumer watchdog Henry Curtis is worried that any tax savings would be offset by pending rate increases.
Last month, HECO received an interim 2.8 percent rate increase, its first in six years.
"Life of the Land has seen most bills go up year to year rather than going down," said Curtis. "(But) this will keep them honest and will shift tax breaks to consumers."
The PUC said that if the appropriate amounts of tax savings are not passed on to consumers, it could hold hearings or take up the matter in future rate cases.