Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - May 21, 2018 


Giuliani now says the Mueller probe into Russian collusion will end by September. Also on the rundown: Healthcare providers gear up as Trump's new "Gag Rule" targets Planned Parenthood; and some perspective on the administration’s push for Arctic oil.

Daily Newscasts

Consumer Groups Question Higher Electric Rates for AZ

Consumer advocates say higher rates granted to UniSource Energy could make paying electric bills difficult for many low- and fixed-income customers. (michaeljung/iStockphoto)
Consumer advocates say higher rates granted to UniSource Energy could make paying electric bills difficult for many low- and fixed-income customers. (michaeljung/iStockphoto)
August 15, 2016

PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission approved both a significant rate hike and a 50 percent increase in the mandatory monthly "basic service charge” fee for UniSource Energy's 95,000 Arizona customers last week. Consumer advocates are concerned about how the new, higher electric rates will affect thousands of residential customers.

Diane Brown, director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, said the new rates punish customers who try to use less power.

"Consumers are not rewarded for conservation and energy efficiency, and will owe up to $180 annually before they even flip on a light switch,” Brown said.

According to Brown, making electricity less affordable - particularly in Arizona's extreme summer climate - could become a threat to people's health and safety. She said that low- and fixed-income customers are particularly vulnerable to rate increases.

The Arizona Corporation Commission called the rate increases "minimal."

Households should be billed based on how much electricity they use, Brown said, and UniSource should be providing more ways for consumers to control their bills. She said state regulators also need to put in place better incentives for customers to conserve.

"Consumers should be encouraged and provided with tools to reduce their energy use,” Brown said, "to save energy and save money - which benefits consumers, the utilities and Arizona's economy. "

Brown is concerned that the higher rate structure approved for UniSource could serve as a model for the state's larger utilities, including Tucson Electric and Arizona Public Service. Both companies have rate cases pending before state regulators.



Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ