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AARP AZ cites impacts of APS rate increase

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Thursday, March 28, 2024   

Earlier this month, a new Arizona Public Service rate hike went into effect and one senior advocacy group said those on a fixed income may struggle to now pay their energy bills.

According to the utility, the average residential customer will see an expected bill increase of about 8%, which translates to about $10.50 a month. They said it is all in an effort to continue to provide Arizonans with reliable and resilient power and make "critical investments" in their system.

Aimee Cvancara, associate state director of AARP Arizona, contended the possible effects could be significant.

"Folks who are on a fixed income, whether that is a retirement income or even a working income with limited mobility, it is difficult to absorb a $10 to $12 cost in your monthly bill that was unanticipated," Cvancara pointed out. "Particularly because it's not the only increase that folks are seeing right now."

Cvancara emphasized consumers are feeling the weight of increased prices on everything, from groceries to gas, rent and now power. Arizona Public Service rooftop solar customers could also see an additional $2 to $3 a month on their bills but the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association and Attorney General Kris Mayes are both demanding for a rehearing on the case with the Arizona Corporation Commission to challenge the rate hike.

Cvancara noted moving forward, a significant concern for Arizona consumers is going to be something called the system reliability benefit mechanism, which allows Arizona Public Service to recover costs between rate cases for new, utility-owned generation resources.

"This is a new thing for APS customers," Cvancara explained. "It is going to allow the utility to file for up to 3% rate increase and they can do that five times before they have to file for another rate increase."

Some ratepayers and environmental groups oppose the system reliability benefit mechanism, as they argued it will only raise rates and increase demand for fossil fuels. Cvancara said the Arizona Corporation Commission should always strive to balance investments for reliable energy versus the cost consumers will face.

Disclosure: AARP Arizona contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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