A resounding “No.”
That was the overall message shared by APS customers during Monday night's public comment session regarding the company’s proposed rate increases.
"This boiled down to an issue of trust between the public and APS," said one customer.
Another stating that, "APS is financially and socially irresponsible for wanting to charge customers for expenditures to keep burning fossil fuels."
A third commenter saying, "APS has a poor track record of protecting its customers from high electricity rates and now wants to raise rates again."
APS is currently asking the Arizona Corporation Commission to approve a rate increase that could bring in an estimated $184 million a year. Customers, however, say now is not the time.
"They ought to have some, some empathy for the people that are trying to pay ‘em, especially in this climate they were in now with COVID-19," said a commenter.
While no one could have predicted the impact of COVID-19, the currently proposed increase comes as issues from the companies last increase, one approved more than three years ago, still linger.
Reports requested by the Commission show over earning by the company, not enough educational materials for customers informing them of rate changes, as well as a faulty plan comparison tool that led to customers paying more than they should.
However, the AZCC has chosen not to overturn the increase, meaning it will stay in place.
"It is not chump change," said Stacey Champion, who asked the AZCC to overturn the last increase.
Champion says while that did not go as planned, now is the time for others to speak up, especially with the limited public comment opportunities on the calendar.
"There should be numerous opportunities for people to weigh in on something that's going to again have, like, just a massive impact on them,' said Champion.
Commissioner Sandra Kennedy tells ABC15, "[the] Commission needs to do a better job of ensuring that the public knows when, where, and how to provide their comments on this important issue.”
She adds that she is, “working hard to get the Arizona Corporation Commission to embrace diverse communication methods to ensure the public has many opportunities to participate..."
Commissioner Lea Marquez Peterson also voicing similar concerns, writing that the commission, “may need to employ alternative approaches to ensure that APS's customers can have a robust and inclusive process while protecting public health and safety.”
We have been told by Commission staff that there are plans to discuss adding additional meetings and formats at an upcoming meeting.
UPCOMING PUBLIC COMMENT:
Tuesday, July 28
6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (or when the last caller has provided comment, whichever comes first.)
Dial-in Phone Number: 1-866-705-2554
Passcode to Speak: 241497
Passcode to Listen Only: 2414978