The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has approved new rates for electric customers of UniSource Energy Services’ that will take effect on January 1, 2014.
UES is committed to providing safe, reliable electric service in an environmentally responsible manner. Our employees work around the clock to keep thousands of miles of poles, wires and other equipment operating.
New rates, which take effect on Jan 1, 2014, will allow us the opportunity to recover the costs of fulfilling our commitment to provide safe, reliable electric service in an environmentally responsible manner at a reasonable price.
Since 2009, the company has completed system enhancements totaling more than $157 million to serve customers' needs. These efforts include the acquisition of new power production resources and strengthening of UES' electrical distribution system. Common utility benchmarks indicate that UNS Electric's distribution operations rank among the most reliable in the industry.
Under UES' new rates, the average monthly bill of a residential customer with usage of 850 kilowatt hours (kWh) is expected to increase by less than 50 cents.
For questions or comments about UES' new rates, please use our email form.
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approved new rates for customers of UNS Electric Inc., a subsidiary of UniSource Energy Services (UES), that take effect on January 1, 2014. The new rates will allow UES to recover costs of system improvements that have resulted in greater system reliability and safety performance.
Q: Why does UES need to recover the costs of its electrical system improvements?
A: UES must continually repair and improve its electrical system to continue providing safe and reliable service and to comply with government mandates including the integration of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Since 2009, the company has completed system enhancements totaling more than $157 million to serve customers' needs. These efforts include the acquisition of new power production resources and strengthening of UES' electrical distribution system. These improvements include:
Q: Why does UES' system need to be maintained and improved?
A: The electrical systems that serve both Mohave and Santa Cruz counties are under constant stress from customer usage, weather, age and other factors. UES must continually enhance, replace and repair systems to continue to provide safe, reliable service.
Q: How has your standard residential service rate changed?
The amount you pay will depend on your energy use. The R-01 plan now has three tiers in which lower levels of energy usage are billed at lower rates, allowing you to save money by controlling the amount of energy you use.
The customer charge has been increased to $10 per month from $8 per month for single-phase service.
Q: How will this affect my bill?
For customers on the Residential R-01 standard rate, the average monthly bill for usage of 850 kilowatt hours (kWh) is expected to increase by less than 50 cents.
For low income customers, the average monthly bill for usage of 850 kilowatt hours (kWh) is expected to increase by less than $2.
Q: How will this affect the Purchased Power and Fuel Adjustment Charge (or Credit; PPFAC) on my bill?
Initially, the PPFAC will be reset to zero on January 1, 2014 and readjusted by a limited amount monthly using a 12-month rolling average. The PPFAC passes the actual cost of fuel and purchased power to customers with no mark-up for the company. UES earns no profit from this charge. The PPFAC is based on usage and reflects changes in energy costs not included in base power supply rates.
Q: What's the status of UES' energy efficiency programs?
With the approval of new rates, the ACC also approved continued funding for UES' energy efficiency programs for electric customers, who can partially offset monthly bill increases associated with higher base rates by participating in one or more of these programs.
Q: How have your residential Time-of-Use plans changed?
The ACC approved some changes to UES' Time-of-Use programs. Where appropriate, customers on some Time-of-Use rates and other rates may be shifted to new rate plans. A letter with additional details will be mailed to Time-of-Use customers. Among the changes:
Q: Have there been any changes for commercial customers on Time-of-Use rates?
Yes. The ACC approved changes to commercial Time-of-Use programs. Like residential Time-of-Use rates, commercial customers on Time-of-use rates will be automatically enrolled in new rate plans and will receive a letter explaining such plans. Among the changes:
Q: Could Time-of-Use rates end up costing me more every month?
A Time-of-Use plan could save you money compared to our standard rate plans when you shift the majority of your electricity use to off-peak hours. On the other hand, your Time-of-Use plan could cost you more if you use too much electricity during peak periods.
The Time-of-Use rate is offered as an incentive to shift your electric use from on-peak to off-peak hours particularly during the summer. Being on the Time-of-Use rate will require you to make adjustments in your daily routine. If you don't change your energy usage patterns, you could pay more.
Q: Can Time-of-Use rates save me money even if someone is home during the day?
You can save money even if you're home during peak hours. All you need to do is shift electricity usage to off-peak hours. Make some changes in your usage habits and you can be on your way to saving money.
Summer: May — October Weekdays
Winter: November — April Weekdays
Q: Is there a specific length of time I must remain on Time-of-Use rates?
You should plan to remain on Time-of-Use rates for at least a year in order to realize annual savings on your electric bill.
Q: How will I know if I'm using electricity more cost effectively?
Hold on to your electric bills and see if your off-peak electricity usage changes over time, and your on-peak usage goes down. If you find you're using more energy during the low-demand, low-price times of day, then you're being a very careful consumer.
Q: Why do Time-of-Use plans offer different rates at peak and off-peak times?
Electric utilities pay more for power during periods of the day when the demand for power is high. Our costs, in the long run, become your costs. Off-peak rates are intended to encourage customers to use energy at times of the day when the cost of power is lower.
In the summer, our system peaks during the afternoon and early evening until dusk. In the winter, the costliest times are when we start our day, and around dinnertime. So the more you shift energy use to the low-cost, low-demand times, the less you pay.
Q: What can I do in my home to conserve energy and get the most savings from Time-of-Use rates?
Q: Are Time-of-Use rates right for my business?
It may depend on whether air conditioning accounts for the bulk of your electricity usage, and whether you can realistically limit its use.Some of the many factors that may affect your decision regarding Time-of-Use rates are:
Could Time-of-Use rates end up costing me more every month?
Yes, it is possible. It is more likely that you will see higher bills in some months offset by lower bills in other months. What's important is whether your lower bills more than offset your higher bills, and that you see a net savings over the entire year.
Time-of-Use rates are offered as an incentive to shift your electric use from peak to off-peak hours particularly during the summer. Being on the Time-of-Use rate will require you to make adjustments in your daily routine. If you don't change your energy usage patterns, you could pay more or you may come out about even on this rate. If you control peak usage, you may end up saving in some or all of the months.
Air conditioning accounts for a substantial portion of my bill — can I still benefit?
To achieve the best savings on a Time-of-Use plan, you will need to control your air-conditioner usage during summer peak periods 2-8 p.m. in May through September. If air-conditioning makes up a major part of your load and you cannot control usage during the summer peak periods by setting thermostats to a higher temperature, then carefully consider whether Time-of-Use rates are right for you.
Do Time-of-Use rates help me save during the winter?
Our experience is that customers are more likely to save under time-of-use rates during winter periods. In our climate, customers typically are more willing to set thermostats to a lower temperature during peak winter periods (October through April). That's why we suggest you consider an entire year of electricity usage to decide whether you might benefit from Time-of-Use rates.
My business is open during typical business hours — can Time-of-Use rates work for me?
It depends on whether air conditioning accounts for the bulk of your usage, and whether you can realistically alter your air conditioning settings. Typically, small retail businesses are NOT good candidates for Time-of-Use rates because many retail businesses are unwilling to set thermostats to higher temperatures in the summer afternoons. Customer comfort may be an overriding concern, and the use of fans or other energy saving measures may not be an option, or may not sufficiently reduce peak period consumption enough to make Time-of-Use rates a good choice.
Q: I am not signed up for Budget Billing. Why might I want to sign up?
Electric bills can vary greatly from season to season or month to month. Budget Billing is an optional UES payment plan that allows you to pay for your electric use in equal monthly installments.
Your estimated annual bill will be divided into 12 equal monthly payments. We will continue to read your meter monthly, but you'll pay the same amount from one month to the next instead of paying a different amount each month. Your bill will show how much energy you've used, the amount you've paid, and your actual account balance.
Q: If I sign up for Budget Billing, will I receive a discount?
No. Budget Billing is not a discount program. However, with Budget Billing, you'll know ahead of time exactly how much to budget for your electric bill. Your summertime bill payments will most likely be lower.
Q: If I sign up for Budget Billing, will your new rates affect how much I pay every month?
Yes. Your monthly payment will be based on 12 months of energy use and calculated using UES' new rates. We will adjust Budget Billing amounts periodically to reflect changes in your actual usage. If you've used less energy than you've paid for, we'll owe you the difference. That amount will be applied to your next Budget Billing payment(s) until it is used up. If you used more power than you paid for, you will owe us. That amount will be added to your Budget Billing payment, equally divided over the next 12 months until it is paid off. Ultimately, you'll only pay for the energy you use.
Q: I'm already signed up for Budget Billing. Will your new rates affect how much I pay every month?
Eventually, yes. As a Budget Billing participant, you already know that your estimated annual bill is divided into 12 equal monthly payments and periodically adjusted to reflect changes in your actual usage. Our new rates, which go into effect on January 1, 2014, will be factored into your Budget Billing amount during the next adjustment to your account.
Q: Is the GreenWatts program still available?
No. Under new rates recently approved by the ACC, the GreenWatts program will be discontinued on December 31, 2013. For more than a decade, customers invested thousands of dollars to help pay for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at of schools, nonprofit organization facilities, government offices and other public places in Arizona.
However, customers still have the opportunity to support the development and deployment of solar energy by participating in our Bright Arizona Community Solar program.
Bright Arizona offers an easy and affordable way to meet your electric energy needs with locally generated solar power. As a UNS Electric customer, you have the opportunity to purchase solar power in "blocks" of 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month. You can buy some or all of your power through the program, reducing or eliminating your energy from conventional resources.
Each block purchased through Bright Arizona will add $3 to your monthly electric bill. However, program blocks are exempt from two surcharges applied to other electric usage — the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST) and the Purchased Power and Fuel Adjustment Charge (or Credit; PPFAC). Both surcharges are adjusted annually to reflect changing energy costs and other factors, so the benefit of being exempt from them could increase over time if the surcharges rise. The price you'll pay for each Bright Arizona block will remain fixed for 20 years under ACC-approved program rules.
Q: Are low-income assistance programs still available?
Yes, although with some changes. Eligible low income customers will continue to benefit from the discounted Customer Assistance Residential Energy Support (CARES) rate. To remain eligible for UES' low-income assistance, you may be required to be recertified every year.
Under the new base rates for the CARES rate, the charges to cover the costs of providing service to your property, including generation, transmission and distribution have changed. Your monthly customer charge will increase by $1.40. As a result of these changes, the monthly bill for all low-income customers with usage of 850 kilowatt hours (kWh) is expected to increase by less than $2.
Additionally, UES is modifying several of its rate offerings, including the low-income Medical Discount rate. Some rate plans will be "frozen," which means that customers on these plans may remain on their current low-income discount rates unless they move from their current residences.
Q: I (or a member of my family) rely on medical equipment to maintain health. If I move or change rate plans, should I be concerned about the reliability of my electric service?
Regardless of your rate plan, UES will continue to place a notice on your account alerting us that the use of medical equipment is considered essential for sustaining life and is operated at the account residence.
We ask that you submit a signed statement from a physician that verifies that a resident of the home is medically life-support dependent and state the type of essential medical equipment in use at the residence.