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Corp Comm approves higher rates for clean energy

Many Arizonans will be paying a little bit more for electricity in the coming year, as the Arizona Corporation Commission approved slight rate increases three power companies sought to offset the cost of complying with renewable energy standards established in 2006.

Those standards require electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. For 2009, the companies must produce 2 percent of their power from renewable sources, like wind or solar.

The rate increases were approved by the Corporation Commission to allow the utilities to bring more renewable energy sources online.

“With this decision every Arizonan moved closer to the day when electric energy will be both cleaner and more affordable,” said Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller.  “It’s a long road but worth the trip.”

Arizona Public Service customers will on average pay $1.80 more per month to help the company raise the $78.4 million needed to increase renewable energy output. Tucson Electric Power ratepayers will pay an extra $4.29 a month, generating $29.7 million for the company.

And UNS Electric will be allowed to raise rates about $3.57 a month to meet the renewable energy standards.

Other commissioners were less enthused. Chairman Mike Gleason, who voted against all three rate increases, called the plans “very unkind” to the ratepayer and said the Commission’s decision actually makes clean energy more expensive.

Commissioner Gary Pierce, who also voted against the rate increases, said his colleagues on the five-member panel “inexplicably raised the costs of going green” by failing to listen to the advice of renewable energy advocates.

“For the same amount of money, our utilities could obtain more than three times the amount of renewable energy,” Pierce said. “The Commission is not spending ratepayer money wisely. I look forward to working with a new Commission to greatly increase the amount of renewable energy we obtain per ratepayer dollar.”


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