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OPINION: This Time, Increase A Good Step To Take
This Time, Increase A Good Step To Take

Dec. 15, 2009 12:00 AM
To read this article in The Arizona Republic, click here.

This might seem like the dumbest time to raise the cost of electricity. But the smartest move for our future is the proposed settlement agreeing on Arizona Public Service's request for a rate increase.



So smart that an astonishing cross-section of interests - environmentalists, consumer advocates, mining operations, business groups and school officials - is urging the Arizona Corporation Commission to approve it.

Because it's more than a rate hike. The deal includes better efficiency, more alternative energy, greater flexibility for large power users and more help for low-income customers.
Those are all important steps to help ensure a reliable, affordable power supply in the long run.

The long run also depends on the financial stability of APS. Without a rate increase, the company's bond rating could be reduced to junk status. Capital costs would rise dramatically. And customers would feel the pain in higher bills.

The proposed rate increase, on the other hand, would be relatively painless right now. The price of generating power with natural gas has fallen, a cost savings that APS passes on to customers.

Until natural-gas prices rose, the average customer would pay an extra $1.22 a month, instead of the full increase of $6.32.

An administrative judge has gone through the complex rate case and recommended approving it. The Corporation Commission began a hearing last week, and a vote is expected as soon as today. For our future, the commissioners should vote "yes."