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Consumer Advocates Fight Proposed Electric Rate Increase

Ratepayers can weigh in on a proposed increase on their APS electricity bill at a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix. (Xandert/Morguefile)
Ratepayers can weigh in on a proposed increase on their APS electricity bill at a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix. (Xandert/Morguefile)
March 21, 2017

PHOENIX – Public hearings resume Wednesday in Phoenix on the proposed Arizona Public Service (APS) electricity rate settlement agreement, which could tack $13 a month onto customers' bills.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) can either accept, modify or reject the agreement in a few months after the public comment period closes.

Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, says many customers could see a $6 monthly rate increase, plus an 87.5 percent increase to the mandatory monthly charge, which is going up from $8 a month to $15.

"That is an enormous increase and is unjustified, as is their overall desire to increase rates for consumers," she said.

The ACC already held one hearing, in Douglas last Wednesday. Tomorrow's hearing is at 10 A.M. at the ACC building in Phoenix. The next is planned for Yuma on Apr. 10. A fourth hearing, in Northern Arizona, is still in the works.

APS originally asked for a much larger increase but negotiated it down for the settlement. Its last rate case was five years ago and the company has agreed to wait three years to ask for another.

APS also has shelved a plan to introduce mandatory residential demand charges that are based on the hour of highest usage each month.

Brown notes that two other utilities – UNS Electric in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties, and Tucson Electric Power – recently rescinded their requests for a similar charge.

"Over the last year, ratepayer input in part has helped beat back unfair utility charges and it is important for APS customers to weigh in on the proposed increases to their monthly bill," she added.

The settlement also allows APS to put all new customers on time-of-use rates, and keep them there for 90 days. These rates charge people more for using electricity during peak times.

Brown says she'd like the commissioners to remove that restriction, allowing people to choose their plan from the start.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ