Looking out for limited-income customers

July 12, 2016

Caring for limited-income customers is a core part of what we do and who we are, and our proposed rate review will ensure that their needs are met reliably and affordably. 

There are currently about 85,000 customers enrolled in our Energy Support Program, and another 1,300 customers are supported through our Medical Care Equipment Support Program, which provides a discount for customers who require life-sustaining medical equipment. APS has additional programs to provide assistance to vulnerable customers.

In our recent rate review filing, we are proposing to increase limited-income support by $12 million, from $35.6 million to $48 million, and create a $34/month flat discount (capped at 80 percent of a customer’s bill) for limited-income customers so they know what to plan for month-to-month.

“A flat discount provides customers with more stability and predictability,” said Stacy Derstine, APS VP of Customer Service, in her rate review testimony

We are also working with several community partners to implement changes on how eligible customers enroll in our limited-income support programs. With these processes in place, we plan efforts to market the programs and increase enrollment of eligible customers. 

“The changes that we have underway ensure that the funding for limited income programs gets to the qualified population, provides an easier way for customers already receiving assistance to enroll, and makes the discount consistent from month-to month and clear for customers to understand,” Derstine said.

Limited-income customers can take advantage of additional programs, such as weatherization assistance, to manage their energy costs.  In 2015, APS allocated $2.3 million to help with limited-income weatherization projects around the state.

Customers, including those with limited incomes, will benefit from the modernized pricing model we proposed. The current rate structure no longer works today and must be changed. One reason is that limited-income customers are hurt most by the current rates and solar subsidies.

Non-solar customers are subsidizing rooftop solar – at the current rate of solar adoption, $52 million a year – adding on even more to a limited-income customer’s bill. The subsidy is greater than the total funding proposed for our limited-income assistance programs and will continue to grow unless it’s fixed.