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For a select group of APS customers, a hedge against rate increases

Posted at 7:39 PM, Nov 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 21:47:47-05

PHOENIX — The notices came in the mail and were advertised in the paper. For a select group of APS customers, like Richard Gayer, they were eligible to receive a refund on a portion of his 2018 electric bill.

Gayer lives in a part Phoenix covered by the SRP Shareholder Compensation Fund. The Fund was established in 1928. Land was assessed to raise money for bonds to build dams.

Today some of those landowners are APS customers. If their electric bill is at least 15 percent more than what SRP customers pay for the same amount they use, they receive the rebate.

"21.1 percent more I paid to APS than I would have paid SRP, Gayer said, that's a lot."

In 2017, SRP sent payments to 6,301 program applicants. The total payout was $2,300,170. It's an average payment of $365.05 per applicant. The 2018 payouts, were sent out in 2019. SRP says those totals won't be available until May/June 2020.

Marcella Nowitz, who lives in Central Phoenix, also received a check from SRP. "Basically it listed out by month what I would have paid as an SRP customer which amounted to about 20 percent. I paid 20 percent more than if I was an SRP customer."

"At APS we are always working to make our rates as affordable as possible," spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino says. Trevino says there are big differences why APS customers pay more than SRP customers. Trevino says APS pays more than a half billion dollars a year in property, state and federal taxes. She points to APS's service area which she says is 10-times the area of SRP's. Finally updating infrastructure. APS touts 51 percent of the electricity it delivers is from clean energy sources.

"We want to make sure we are delivering affordable, clean and reliable energy," Trevino said. "But our state is growing. Costing more money to service the needs of a growing Arizona."

Richard Gayer looks at the rates APS charges as excessive, breaking the banks of some customers to insure inflated corporate earnings. Looking at his refund, Gayer said, "It's mostly evidence that APS is simply charging too much," Marcella Nowitz said. "I mean this is not a 5 percent, a 10 percent difference. This is a 20 percent difference. That's money in the customers pocket."