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Tue, Aug. 20

Electric increase could up local bills by 30 percent

Mohave County residents have enjoyed some of the lowest retail electric rates in Arizona.

But that will change for Citizens Arizona Electric customers if the Arizona Corporation Commission approves a proposed rate increase.

The estimated 30 percent increase would push Citizens rates to "one of the higher levels" in the state, according to Heather Murphy at the ACC office in Phoenix.

Sean Breen, director of energy supply for Citizens Arizona Electric, said the rate would be "comparable to rates paid by Arizona Public Service retail customers in the Phoenix area."

Current rates for the tri-state area already vary greatly, according to information provided by Steve Bouman, Mohave Electric Cooperative service and energy supply director.

Citizens' retail consumer rate is now lower than MEC.

Citizens' charge is a flat 7.49 cents per kilowatt-hour plus a $6.50 service charge per customer.

MEC's rate is 8.319 cents per kwh plus a $9.50 charge per customer.

The members of the cooperative own MEC and any profits are returned to the consumers.

Tom Ferry, director of Citizens Arizona Electric Operations, said his company's average home customer uses 600 kwh per month.

Using that number to figure a monthly bill, a Citizens retail household would pay $51.44 for the 600 kwh and the MEC bill would total $59.41.

If the cost of electricity pass through and other changes were granted to Citizens by the ACC, bills would increase about 30 percent, according to data from Ferry.

The $51.44 current billing would go up $15.43 to $66.87 per month.

Bills would vary with the season and the amount of kwh used.

Arizona Public Service beginning rates fall between Citizens and MEC at 7.63 cents per kwh.

However the stair-stepped rate structure goes to 10.63 cents per kwh after 400 kwh of use and to 12.4 after 800 kwh.

At the 600 kwh usage Citizens calls average for their customers, the APS charge would be $59.28 including a $7.50 service charge.

As usage goes beyond that, APS customers pay more and more than Citizens or MEC in Mohave County.

These are estimates calculated from rates provided by MEC and do not reflect sales taxes or other charges.

The variety of rate structures and special programs, including special rates for some groups such as seniors or low-income users, make direct comparisons difficult.

Those Arizona rates look good or bad depending on where you live in the tri-state area.

California residents would be pleased but Nevada homeowners could feel their electric bills are much more complicated than those in Arizona.

Southern California Edison has two different rate areas bordering Arizona and the rate structure for each is complicated.

That makes direct comparisons difficult but does not hide the fact that the rates are as much as twice the rates charged by Citizens and MEC.

The lowest rate in California border areas is just over 13 cents per kwh for a "basic daily allocation."

The amount varies by summer and winter seasons with higher charges per kwh in the winter to make up for lower total use.

Beyond the daily allocation, rates vary from 15 cents per kwh to 26 cents per kwh, compared to the flat rates of Citizens and MEC.

A bill for the summer season is estimated at $78.05 per month and would skyrocket if the customer uses a lot of electricity.

In contrast, Nevada customers pay less than half what Arizona customers pay for the same amount of electricity before the separate delivery fee is added.

Nevada Power charges 3.14 cents per kwh rate for the first 400 kwh with an added 4.773 cents delivery charge, a customer service fee of $5 and a franchise fee of five percent.

That appears to combine for a bill of $58.16 for the 600 kwh customer, depending on how the franchise fee is figured.

Customers in each of the three states along the Colorado River seem to face increased electric power rates, partly because California is short of power and willing to pay more for a stable supply.

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