utility laws pass on more charges
By STEVEN CHURCH
The News Journal
Artesian Water Co. collected
money to pay income taxes, even though its parent company,
Artesian Resources Inc., has not paid any in two years.
When the Public Service Commission tried to do something about
it, it was overruled by lawmakers, who rushed to aid the biggest
water company in the state.
Last year, the company applied for
permission to raise rates. One of the items it claimed as an
expense, as is customary, was income tax. Related to that
expense was a $1.4 million alternative minimum tax burden the
company said it had built up, Artesian Senior Vice President
Joseph DiNunzio said.
The company said that under
Delaware law, it could factor the $1.4 million into rates.
Commission experts disagreed.
Because Artesian's parent company, Artesian Resources, had
paid no taxes for two years, commission experts wanted to
exclude the alternative minimum tax charge.
General Assembly takes action
When the commission ruled
against the company in April 2005, Artesian went to the
Delaware Legislature. Three months later, lawmakers changed
state utility laws, requiring the commission to include
Artesian's alternative minimum tax claim.
Last month, a Public Service
Commission hearing examiner urged the commission to consider
basing all future utility rates on the actual taxes that