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Arizona Commission to rule on APS rate hikes

Posted: 10:39 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-10 01:43:45-04

PHOENIX — On Wednesday, The Arizona Corporation Commission will decide whether or not to rescind Arizona Public Service's 2017 rate increase and restore prior rates.

The decision will come in response to thousands of customers signing a petition alleging they were misled and their prices increased more than the 4.5% the utility giant communicated to the public.

"Everything [APS] put out said this is a 4.5% increase and it will amount to about a six dollar increase on your residential bills," said Stacey Champion, the main complainant. "What was advertised was not the truth."

Champion said her bill was one of tens of thousands to increase exponentially and she even worked to analyze customers' bills from before and after the 2017 increase.

"What my expert found after analyzing 10.5 million bills, is that number is typical, on average, three times that [4.5% increase]," she said.

Champion filed her formal complaint in January of 2018 with the Arizona Corporation Commission.

On Wednesday, the five-person board will decide to rescind the increase in price or dismiss the complaint entirely, which a judge has already recommended.

"An administrative law judge held a five-day hearing and she found that there was not enough evidence to continue down this path and that the complaint should be dismissed," said Suzanne Trevino, a spokesperson with APS.

Trevino says the utility company also disputes Champion's independent numbers. She said the APS data shows the average customer is paying 4.1% more when comparing the "2015 test year rates" versus the new rates.

The APS numbers also show though, that roughly 30% of customers are paying between 11% and 20% more on their bills. The results also "exclude taxes and other government fees."

To see the breakdown of how APS customers' bills changed, click here.

"Some customers are going to pay more, some are going to pay less, that's how averages work," said Trevino.

Champion though points to the APS data that shows some customers paying 81% less and 95% more.

"So the design was flawed and they didn't communicate the reality of the situation properly to customers," said Champion.

The Corporation Commission Chairman, Bob Burns, told ABC15 he thinks it is unlikely the 2017 increase will be rescinded because APS has to file a new rate case by October 31, 2019.

The board demanded the utility company start the process again, which will take likely a year. The next APS rate hike will again determine whether 1.1 million customers' bills increase, stay the same, or decrease.