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Because of lower taxes, Minnesota Power customers to get modest refund

DULUTH — The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered several of the state's utility companies to return $200 million to consumers — including $18.7 million from Duluth-based Minnesota Power.

That's possible thanks to lower corporate tax rates following the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

"With respect to each regulated utility, the Commission acted to ensure that each utility's rates

reflect the new, lower federal income tax rates in the cost of providing service," the PUC said in a news release Friday, Aug. 10.

For Minnesota Power customers, the lower federal tax rate has already resulted in a lower rate increase, but Thursday's decision will lead to paybacks for customers, Minnesota Power spokesperson Amy Rutledge explained in an email.

"When final rates go into effect late this year, customers will start receiving a 1.5259% credit on their monthly bill through a new line item, called the tax cut rider, totaling about $10 million a year refund until our next rate case," Rutledge said.

For a $100 power bill, that's about $1.53 returned.

The 2018 refund balance will be returned to customers in "a lump-sum credit" in early 2019, Rutledge said.

Minnesota Power recommended the payback to the PUC, Rutledge said.

The federal tax cut "is resulting in savings and we are passing on those savings to customers," Rutledge said.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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