Salt River Project (SRP) Holds Public Hearing on Rate Proposal

Media Contacts
Diane E. Brown

Statement of Diane E. Brown, Executive Director

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.  My name is Diane E. Brown and I am an SRP customer who lives in Gilbert and who is willing to pay more for energy efficiency.  I am here today as the Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, an organization that conducts research and education on public interest issues, and particularly on behalf of our members that are SRP customers to thank SRP for responding to issues recently raised by ratepayers in your service territory and to encourage your commitment to significantly increasing energy efficiency.

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund believes transparency and opportunities for public participation are key ingredients to a successful ratemaking process.  We thank SRP for posting meetings and information on your rate proposal on your website, enabling your customers with the ability to provide comments online, conducting informational open houses with knowledgeable staff in various communities in your service territory, and allowing the public to ask questions and present comments tonight and tomorrow night as well as during your Board meeting in February.

We also thank you for delaying and modifying your rate proposal from the fall and for choosing to increase energy efficiency based on customer input. 

While these efforts are commendable, we ask SRP to not rest on its laurels but to stay on course and go the distance. 

As has often been said, “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  We ask SRP to recognize your proposed rate hike can largely be attributable to costs associated coal-fired power plants namely Springerville 4 and the Coronado Generating Station.  While we appreciate your commitment to delay new power plants and power lines whenever possible, it is important for SRP to concede investing in coal is investing in the past and investing in energy efficiency provides the best return on ratepayer investments and is the future.

As you are aware, hundreds of business and residential ratepayers have echoed that sentiment by sending and continuing to send SRP a loud and clear message: Energy efficiency saves businesses and consumers money, reduces air pollution, and protects public health.

As your proceedings continue, we encourage you to consider the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s Principles for the Electric System which includes:

1. Access to safe, reliable, affordable electricity service.  The goal of electricity regulation should be to provide adequate, reliable service to consumers at the lowest cost – including external costs such as public health, economic and social impacts.

2. Balance the long-term and short-term needs of consumers, as well as the interests of various classes of consumers.  Electricity rates should be designed to promote economically efficient and socially responsible outcomes – including energy efficiency, rate stability and the protection of low-income consumers.

3. Consumers should be assured that the public interest guides all decisions with regard to the electric system.  System planning must take place in the public sphere, include ample opportunities for broad public participation in decision-making and ensure that the views of small consumers are adequately represented in the process.

By focusing on the effects and impacts of energy efficiency policies for business and residential customers and not primarily on their funding or spending levels, SRP can ensure that the rate of return on energy efficiency programs is a good sound investment for all SRP ratepayers.  Instituting yearly energy efficiency program ramp-ups, benchmarks, and evaluation open to the public provides accessibility and accountability.

With a brown cloud all too often hanging over Phoenix, anticipated population growth in our state generating additional energy and water demands, high asthma and other respiratory illness rates attributed in part to nonrenewable energy sources, energy efficiency is a clean and healthy solution for SRP ratepayers.

In conclusion, like many other SRP customers, it is easier to write a check if I know my money is being spent wisely – energy efficiency is a smart investment.  By committing to energy efficiency as your priority resource and increasing effective energy efficiency programs for SRP to at least 20% by 2020, we will be on the way to an Energy Efficient Arizona.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment.