The Arizona Corporation Commission held a public comment session Monday to discuss the proposed Arizona Public Service rate increases. KAWC’s Maya Springhawk Robnett reports.
More than a dozen Yuma citizens attended the event and many of them spoke, including 77-year-old retired businessman John Quintero, who told the commission it needs to look out for the consumers. “That’s what you’re there for," he said, standing at the podium before the Commission. "That’s why we elected you: to look into these things. This is a corporation that is running amuck.”
Quintero and many of the other attendees opposed the rate increase of six dollars per month for the average customer. The proposed changes would also increase the mandatory monthly fee from eight dollars to fifteen dollars per month, regardless of a customer’s electricity use.
Stephanie Layton, APS Director of Revenue Requirements, says there is an economic sound reason for the rate increase. “We haven’t been in for a rate review in five years and as we all know, costs increase," Layton explained. "It costs about a billion dollars a year for us just to maintain the system and continue providing customers with that same level of reliability and customer service that they expect.”
However, the economy is the same reason APS customers say the rate increases shouldn’t be this steep. Customers read their bills, cited the Yuma County poverty rate, discussed the fixed incomes of retired citizens, and called APS a monopoly.
Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin says he’s glad to have open forums such as this one because the Commission relies on public opinion to make its determinations. “What you heard here tonight was people who were saying, ‘It’s a monopoly, this is a monopoly, and we rely on you folks to do what is fair.’ And that’s what we wanna hear.”