APS Rate Hike Settlement

 Last month, we told you about some changes APS was implementing for their customers. One of the things they asked for was a whopping $166 million dollar rate increase, an average of $11 per customer per month. 

The final outcome of this request was that APS agreed to accept a $6-per-customer hike, to the tune of $95 million instead of the $166 million they wanted. This rate increase applies to all APS homes during all seasons.  At least thirty of the forty parties involved in the settlement have agreed to the increase, including the Corporation Commission staff and the Residential Utility Consumer Office. These are still subject to a recommendation by an administrative law judge and the Corporation Commission has to vote on it, but those are merely formalities. 

The demand charges which APS sought, which would have had mandatory pricing based on the customer’s peak use, rather than actual use, was changed to an optional charge because the potential for confusion on billing and the fairness of the billing was questionable. According to APS Vice President Barbara Lockwood, mandatory peak rate pricing would be a ‘useful tool’ to force families to reduce peak time usage, however, that plan has been abandoned for now. 

Some good news for APS customers was also revealed: 

There will be $15 million dollars in refunds to ratepayers.
Low-income customers will get a 25% discount on their bills, to the tune of $13 million. An extra $1.25 million in funding has been earmarked for emergency funding for overdue bills of low-income customers. 
APS has also agreed not to ask for any more rate hikes until June 1, 2019. 
$10-15 million per year will be used to install solar power on customer’s homes and pay them roof-rental fees. 

The contention between solar energy customers and APS has been settled, under the terms that the existing solar customers would be grandfathered in, but that new solar customers will be offered lower rates for their excessive energy. Unfortunately, this will slow the solar industry here, but not stop them completely. 

Last week, we talked about changing the direction of ceiling fans for summer and replacing the HVAC filter to help lower your electric bill.  In the coming weeks, we will offer more information on how to lower your electricity usage. For the consumer, the ability to minimize rate hikes will have to come in the form of personal electrical reductions, appliance upgrades, and advances in electrical technology.  We will help. Because, while we respect APS’s right to ask for an increase, we don’t necessarily want our customers to have to foot the bill for it.


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