Staff and volunteers with AARP Arizona crowded into a public hearing of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) August 10 to hear testimony and public comment regarding Southwest Gas’ request for increased rates and approval of “decoupling” – a new proposal for assuring utility revenues.
AARP opposes the proposed rate increase as it will add $40 a year to the bills of the average residence. AARP testified against the decoupling proposals which, in addition to other things, attempt to maintain Southwest Gas revenues in the face of declining sales.
AARP’s advocacy efforts around this issue have, so far, resulted in thousands of Arizonans calling and emailing the ACC to voice their opposition.
At the hearing, AARP Arizona Advocacy Director Steve Jennings presented over 1100 emails that were sent to the commission within 48 hours of the August 10 hearing.
“The volume of emails and telephone calls tell me that people are afraid and concerned about increases to their utility rates, especially at a time when seniors have not received a Social Security increase for two years and prices for food and other things are going up,” said Jennings.
AARP calls decoupling “controversial” because of its risk to consumers. “Under decoupling, there is a much clearer benefit to the company than to consumers,” said AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell. “Decoupling weakens the incentive for consumers to save energy because under decoupling, decreased usage results in increased rates.”
AARP urges Arizonans who have Southwest Gas to contact the Arizona Corporation Commission to voice concerns about decoupling and the rate hike request.