Brown: Will your APS bill increase this summer?

The heat has hit. The combination of rising temperatures and rising electric bills often hurts like a one-two punch to the gut.

Due to the APS rate hike, the pain to your pocketbook is likely to be even more severe this summer unless you fight back.

Here’s how you can deliver a blow to higher electric bills:

Diane E. Brown

1. Weigh-in. While APS has been offering customers the chance to pick from one of their new rate plans, if you don’t act you either have already been or will soon be moved to a new plan “similar to the one you are on today.”

The problem for APS customers that have previously chosen Time-of-Use rates is that there isn’t a new plan comparable to the one that existed at this time last year. While you can still enjoy a reduced rate during “off-peak” hours, if you want to benefit financially, you now need to make sure your household can keep consumption low Monday-Friday from 3-8 p.m., when overall electricity usage is the highest.

If you are confused about your choices; expect the activity in your household to increase this summer; or are unsure what you can do besides turning your air conditioner up or running your pool pump during off-peak hours, we encourage you to call APS at (800)240-2014.

APS staff should be able to provide information on your monthly usage over recent years, present an option that could work best for your household and offer tips to save energy and money year-round. And if you feel like you are still hanging on the ropes or your bill is higher than it should be, the Customer Service Division at the Arizona Corporation Commission and the staff at the Residential Utility Consumer Office are working to help consumers resolve their concerns.

2. Keep on your toes. In the last year, APS customers experienced two consequential rounds of bill changes. In round one, APS increased the monthly service charge and customer rates. In round two, consumers received savings APS passed along to its customers as part of the federal tax bill.

To score additional savings moving forward, you need to stay “in the ring” and guard yourself against further financial hits on your monthly electric bill. You can protect yourself by checking out APS’ redesigned website, reviewing information sent to ratepayers, and contacting customer service staff.

If you end up with a plan that isn’t working for you either adjust the strategy for your household or choose another option.

3. Aim for the Knockout. You can take a significant shot to bring down high monthly electric bills by incorporating tips to save energy and money — including energy efficient appliances — into your household plan.

To clinch the best possible savings on your electric bill moving forward, our elected members of the Arizona Corporation Commission will need to make sure the necessary scrutiny is placed on the utilities they regulate.

The Arizona Corporation Commission recently sent APS back to the drawing board on their proposed resource plan, which is good news for ratepayers. The next opportunity for the Commission to be in the corner of consumers is by ensuring utilities significantly invest in cost-saving energy efficiency and demand-side management programs.

Will your APS bill increase this summer? The answer is likely yes but how much depends on whether you weigh-in, keep on your toes and aim for the knockout.

Editor’s Note: Diane E. Brown is the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest.

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