APS charging new fee to pay for energy-saving programs

Get ready to pay a little more for your electricity if you're an APS customer.

The utility is imposing a small, new fee in March.

Customers were notified in their January APS bills, and the Arizona Corporation Commission , which approved the new fee last year, has gotten 25 complaints from customers about it since they sent out the notice.

The fee will help APS recover its fixed costs because the utility says it's, "selling less electricity," according to the notice sent to customers.

The reason? More customers are installing renewable energy systems and using compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycling refrigerators, the notice says. Those are things that APS encourages customers to do.

Gus Gaglio of Phoenix wrote to the ABC15 Investigators, saying "APS will give away CFL's to help reduce the amount of electricity they sell to you. Top it off with a rebate for your new pool pump and/or replace the 'old' fridge…The cost will be passed on to you, the consumer."

But APS spokesman Jim McDonald says the utility has fixed costs that the utility must pay.

"We have to build the system, we have to maintain it; we have to do it in a reliable way," he said. "This charge is a small, affordable fee that allows us to do that and to offer these energy efficiency programs to all of our customers."

Customers have two ways to pay the fee, which McDonald says will be about 38 cents a month for the average APS customer. The fee is capped at 1 percent. APS is required to reduce energy usage and, ultimately, it's good for all customers, McDonald said.

"In order to save that kind of energy, this has to be a part of the equation," McDonald said. "And that equation ends up saving a lot of dollars for all of our customers."

The Arizona Corporation Commission said today they brought up the fee at their meeting, but nothing was done.

Commissioner Bob Stump told the ABC15 Investigators all utilities are being pushed to reduce usage by 22 percent by 2020. The fee was allowed so APS could recoup costs and customers will ultimately save money.

The decision was reached after APS brought a rate case to the Corporation Commission in 2011, according to McDonald. Twenty-two different parties discussed the case, he said, and negotiated a settlement that the commission approved. The charge will appear on bills starting March 1.

Click here to read part of the settlement.

And click here to read the APS statement about the new fee.

What do you think about this new fee? Email me or go to my ABC15 Facebook page and tell me about it.

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