What is Avista saying about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
Dear Group, I was going to take the day off today, but then I read my email from Avista...and I can't resist a comment. (The full text of the email is copied below, just to show I'm not making this up.) McMorris Rodgers, as you know, has been beating her messaging drum about the Republican Tax Law in an effort to sell it to the voters. She is so committed to her canned message she even dragged out "money in your pocket" for her opening remarks to high school students at a town hall on School Safety on Maundy Thursday at Ferris. Is she tone deaf...or was she nervous the students would want to talk about guns? Did "money in your pocket" come out as a reversion to comfort zone? In any case, polls have suggested her hand-crafted message is not sitting particularly well with the general populace. That fact only seems to make her more anxious to repeat her same talking points. When she pulls the string that activates her talking points on the Republican Tax Law the sound bite that falls out always includes "money in your pocket." Then comes the well-worn calculation about the extra $2000 or so some hypothetical "average" taxpayer with a family income of $70,000 is supposed to get next year. A favorite local example of a bonus (and the one she memorably touted to the students at Ferris) is the "up to" $1000 Home Depot said last January it would give its employees. Earlier in the day of the Ferris event McMorris Rodgers had spent a few minutes as a stand-in employee. (You can see a clip of how that went here on the Katie Tur Show on MSNBC.) Of course, a one-time bonus offered by a huge company to their employees (more than a year before the effect of the Tax Law is actually felt) is nothing more than a public relations thank you to the Republican Party, a thank you for the eighty percent of the tax law proceeds (and increase in the national debt) that accrues to these companies and their owners. That eighty percent McMorris Rodgers seems incapable of discussing. The Home Depot bonus McMorris Rodgers touted was particularly sour since one of the founders of Home Depot, Ken Langone (current net worth 3.3 billion according to Forbes, up from 2.7 billion in 2014), is one of the frequent fliers in the Koch donor group chronicled in Jane Mayer's book "Dark Money." (See References below). The Koch group was among the most insistent in pushing the Tax Bill. Self interest knows no bounds. So why did the Avista email catch my eye? Here's the excerpt (bold is mine): You may have heard that the Commission recently made a decision on our filings that will change your electric and natural gas rates beginning May 1, 2018. We’re pleased that these new rates include passing benefits of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to our customers through rates. Based on average monthly usage, residential customers in Washington can expect the following bill changes: • Electric: Bill increase of $1.87 or 2.2 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $88.45. • Natural gas: Bill decrease of $0.77 or 1.5, percent for a revised monthly bill of $52.03. I burst out laughing when I read that. The "benefits" of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" they're passing along results in a net $1.10 increase in the average monthly bill! Are they math challenged at Avista or are they saying the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a complete hoax? I know. I know. Mr. Christie, the author of the Avista email, only said the new rates "include" the "benefits" of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Must be monstrous "benefits" to result in a net increase in your utility bill... Keep to the high ground, Jerry Full text of the email I received from Avista May 2, 2018 at 5AM: Dear Avista Customer, In May 2017, we told you about filings we made with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to recover costs related to infrastructure, system maintenance, technology and power supply to serve our customers that would change the price you pay for energy. These requests were driven by the ongoing maintenance and improvements we make every year to the massive infrastructure of poles, dams, turbines, substations, pipes, and other equipment that provides you with safe and reliable power and natural gas. You may have heard that the Commission recently made a decision on our filings that will change your electric and natural gas rates beginning May 1, 2018. We’re pleased that these new rates include passing benefits of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to our customers through rates. Based on average monthly usage, residential customers in Washington can expect the following bill changes: • Electric: Bill increase of $1.87 or 2.2 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $88.45. • Natural gas: Bill decrease of $0.77 or 1.5, percent for a revised monthly bill of $52.03. It’s important to remember that the Commission sets the rate you pay for the energy you use. You can learn more about this and your energy prices here. Take control of your energy use Your monthly energy bill is influenced not only by the price of energy but also by the amount of energy you use. Avista offers a variety of ways for you to manage or reduce your usage and save on your bill. Learn more here. We know you want prices that are fair and reasonable, and so do we. Thank you, Kevin Christie, Vice President, External Affairs and Chief Customer Officer Avista Utilities