UniSource Energy Services (UES) electric customers will be able to choose from several new pricing plans under updated rates approved Aug. 11 by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).
The average bills of residential users with typical usage are expected to increase by about $4 per month under the new rates. The increase will cover the cost of new energy resources and other facilities necessary to support safe, reliable service.
The new rates will be introduced in two steps. Customers will begin paying higher charges by Sept. 1, including a basic service charge of $15 for most residential customers. New pricing plans are expected to be available no later than March 2017.
When those new plans become available, all residential and small commercial customers will have four options: a traditional rate, a demand rate, a time-of-use (TOU) rate and a TOU demand rate. TOU plans charge more for consumption during peak usage periods. Demand rates combine lower kWh charges with a demand charge based on a customer’s highest hourly energy use.
Customers who select a TOU or demand rate will pay reduced basic service charges of $12, an incentive designed to encourage use of the new pricing plans.
The ACC postponed its consideration of proposed changes for customers with rooftop solar arrays. UES is seeking approval to require new solar customers to use demand rates, which more accurately reflect the costs incurred to serve them. The company also has proposed a new “net metering” plan to provide market-based compensation for excess energy from rooftop solar arrays. Existing solar customers would be exempt from those requirements.
The proposed changes would help ensure that solar users pay a fair price for their extensive use of the local electrical system. The ACC will address them after the conclusion of a separate commission proceeding focused on rooftop solar power. That proceeding is expected to conclude later this year.
“The ACC has acknowledged the need for modern rates that more fairly and accurately recover our service costs,” said David G. Hutchens, President and CEO of UES. “We look forward to making additional changes that promote our investment in cost-effective renewable energy resources while providing more equitable, affordable rates for all of our customers.”
The ACC did approve a new option for solar users that provides bill credit-based compensation for solar production as an alternative to traditional net metering. More details about the plan will be available when the program is finalized later this year.
UES’ new electric rates include expanded discounts for limited-income customers who participate in the company’s CARES program. Total annual assistance for limited-income customers will more than double to $1.3 million. More details about CARES discounts are available online at uesaz.com.
The ACC also approved new economic development rates with temporary discounts for new or existing businesses that create new jobs and meet other requirements. The rates are intended to help communities served by UES attract new employers while encouraging existing businesses to expand their operations.
More details about UES’ new electric rates will be available soon on uesaz.com.