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Customers Criticize New APS Rate-Increase Proposal

Customers of Arizona’s largest utility are pushing back against its proposed rate hike.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Corporation Commission held one of several public hearings on Arizona Public Service's rate case.

Earlier this month, APS walked back an increase of $11 a month for the average customer and what would have been a mandatory demand charge for most residential customers. That would be a new fee based on the one-hour window of the month during peak when a customer uses the most power.

Instead, the utility came to a tentative agreement with more than two dozen stakeholders that would amount to only about a $6 increase for the average customer and the option to use a demand charge.

But these changes don’t go far enough for many who showed up for the public hearing.

Rich Stevens, a retiree who lives in Prescott, says the monthly fixed charge on his bill would nearly double and that is "unreasonable and wrong."

"It lessens my ability to control my bill when I have to make many choices in the course of a month on how I have to pay for the things I need,” he said.

While it's true those with a monthly charge of about $8 will see an increase, Stefanie Layton of APS says that’s only one part of a total bill for a certain group of customers.

“Many of our options, six out of the seven rate options, would offer a basic service charge decrease for more than half of our customer today,” Layton said.

The Corporation Commission will be reviewing the proposed APS settlement in the coming months and is expected to make a final decision in the summer.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.