Arizona Public Service (APS) Customers ask for Increased Energy Efficiency – Cleanest and Cheapest Energy Resource

Media Contacts
Diane E. Brown

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Today, the Arizona Corporation Commission heard public comments from Arizona Public Service (APS) customers at public meeting on a proposed rate increase for APS.  Most customers indicated strong support for increasing energy efficiency measures, even if meant an increase in electric rates.

“People recognize that the benefits of increased energy efficiency programs outweigh the costs,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “We can save energy at a good price – in fact energy efficiency is the lowest cost energy resource available, lower than conventional generation and current rates – and reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use.  This is good for consumers and our environment.”

The Western Governors’ Association Energy Efficiency Task Force Report indicates that the average cost for energy efficiency programs is $0.02 to $0.03 per lifetime kilowatt-hour (kWh) saved – much lower than the cost of new conventional generation ($0.05 to $0.09/kWh) and lower than current electric rates (about $0.10/kWh).

“Increasing energy efficiency as part of the APS rate case makes economic sense: it lowers the demand for expensive new transmission lines and power plants, saves consumers and businesses money on their energy bills and increases disposable income which can stimulate our state’s economy,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

Prior to the hearing, small businesses, residential customers, and consumer organizations, as well as many others voiced support for increased energy efficiency measures in letters to the Arizona Corporation Commission.  Here are excerpts from a few:

“By requiring APS to provide incentives for energy efficiency and ensure that businesses are informed and educated about the incentives and the value of these programs, the Commission will help businesses, such as mine, save money and save energy.” – Todd Cislo, President, Gem Marketing Pearls, Inc., Flagstaff

“I know first hand as a business owner the dividends that energy efficiency can pay. Over 10 years ago a savvy lighting vendor talked us into compact fluorescent light bulbs and we immediately saw a 20% reduction in our electric bill. Although the light bulbs were more expensive we could see that short term cost would pay the business back and then result in ongoing flow through the to bottom line. Energy efficiency on a larger scale can only benefit business customers like myself.” – Glenn Beattie, President, GB Restaurants, Inc.

“Energy efficiency programs are important to consumers not only because they help put money into consumers’ pockets through lower bills, but also because such measures help improve the quality of the air we breathe, and reduce the use of water, a precious commodity in our hot, dry desert.”
  – Leslie Kyman Cooper, Executive Director, Arizona Consumers Council

According to the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption will allow customers to reduce their energy bills by 10-50%, even if the cost of the customer efficiency programs increases electric rates by 1-2%.

Some of the programs that individuals and groups asked the Commission to consider include:

• Rebates to electric utility customers who purchase energy efficient appliances, air conditioners, lighting devices, or invest in measures in their home, office or other buildings that result in reductions of energy use.
• Technical assistance and financial incentives for businesses that upgrade their energy efficiency.
• Design assistance and incentives for builders who construct efficient new homes or commercial buildings.
• Programs to reduce the urban heat island effect through shading, cool roofs, and cool pavements.
• Technical assistance and incentives for schools and local governments to increase their energy efficiency.
• Training and certification of builders, contractors, and other energy service providers.
• Training and technical assistance for commercial and industrial facility managers.

APS has applied to the Arizona Corporation Commission for another rate increase – a proposed increase of 9.3% for the average residential customer bill.  The regulatory process for this rate increase has already begun and settlement negotiations are occurring.  Today was the first public hearing on the proposed rate increase, however.