Arizona Public Service (APS) – You Suck!

by David Wallace on July 22, 2008 · 49 comments

I am always afraid to open my electric bill in the summer. It is typical to have electric bills in the $500 range but this month’s bill of shocked me a bit. I’m not going to disclose the exact amount but let’s just say that in my seven years at my current residence, I have never seen a bill this high.

I called them of course to see if there was some error. It is not that I will have any difficulty in paying it. I was just concerned that there had to be some error and I hate wasting money. They informed me that I had indeed used the electricity. Even when I suggested the meter may be faulty, they implied that it would send them a signal, of which it did not. Bottom line is that I have nothing to complain about.

This is not my reason for this post and especially what I decided to title it. There are three “other” things that tick me off a bit which is my reason for writing an “APS Sucks” type of post.

1. The Extensive List of Charges

The APS bill provides a “line-item” list of charges that reads like the options you see when buying a car. I have never really paid much attention to this untill now of which I was quite shocked. Here is what it looks like.

  • Basic Service Charge – The minimum charge for having service available, whether you used electricity or not.
  • Delivery Service Charge – A charge, based on your kWh usage and/or kW demand, to build and operate the equipment for delivering electricity to your home/business, including lines, poles, transformers and substations.
  • Environmental Benefits Surcharge – A charge to cover the costs of programs approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, including: energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
  • Federal Environmental Improvement Surcharge – A charge to recover a portion of the cost of investments and expenses for environmental improvements at APS’ generation facilities designed to comply with environmental standards mandated by federal laws or regulations.
  • Competition Rules Compliance Charge - A charge, based on your kWh usage, to cover costs associated with compliance and implementation of the Electric Competition Rules.
  • System Benefits Charge – A charge to cover the costs of programs approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, including low-income assistance, demand side management, customer education, environmental, renewables, long-term public benefit research and development, nuclear fuel disposal and nuclear power plant decommissioning programs as well as other programs approved by the Commission.
  • Power Supply Adjustment *- An adjustment mechanism to recover fluctuations in fuel and purchased power costs. (i.e., fuel, natural gas)
  • Metering * – A fixed fee for providing and servicing the meter.
  • Meter Reading * – A fixed fee to determine your energy usage.
  • Billing * – The cost of calculating and providing your monthly statement.
  • Generation of Electricity * – The cost of producing the electricity you used this month.
  • Transmission and Ancillary Services * – The cost for moving high voltage electricity from generating facilities and other sources to the APS distribution lines
  • Transmission Cost Adjustment * – A cost, based on your kWh usage, to adjust for annual changes in transmission-related costs procured to serve retail customers.
  • Franchise Fee - A charge by a municipality for APS’ use of the public rights-of-way for its facilities.
  • Regulatory Assessment – A cost imposed on customers of state regulated utilities to help fund the Arizona Corporation Commission and Residential Utility Consumer’s Office.

Oh, and let’s not forget about good ol’ Uncle Sam. He has to have his cut as well.

  • State Sales Tax
  • County Sales Tax
  • City Sales Tax

Now I can understand the Basic Service Charge, Generation of Electricity, and the taxes but what about all the rest of these charges?

Take the Delivery Service Charge for example which allows them to collect additional fees from me so they can build and operate the equipment for delivering electricity, including lines, poles, transformers and substations. This is so bogus. How many companies do you know of charge their customers additional fees so they can build and maintain the methods they use the goods and services customers seek? It would be like Wal-Mart charging me an extra fee on top of the cost of goods sold so they can not only maintain their stores but build new ones as well. Isn’t that what profits are for?

There is the Competition Rules Compliance Charge which charges me an extra fee so they can compete? WTH? At least that is the way I read it.

Why do I have to pay extra for the System Benefits Charge? What do programs for low-income assistance, customer education, long-term public benefit research and development and others have to do with me, especially if I am not using them?

The Transmission and Ancillary Services really gets me – an extra fee for moving high voltage electricity from generating facilities and other sources to the APS distribution lines. What do they have to ship the electricity or move it in trucks? Another bogus charge

On top of all these “extras” I have to pay APS extra so they can measure how much electricity I use and so they can bill me. Isn’t this simply a cost of doing business.

How the Arizona Corporation Commission ever approved all these “extra” charges is beyond me. I mean, does this commission have any real concept of business in the real world?

2. You Can Choose Another Electrical Provider, So Long As It Is APS

You might wonder what the asterisks are for in the line-item list above. They indicate that “the services are currently provided by APS but may be provided by a competitive supplier.” This is more of a taunting however as there is no other provider where I live. APS is the sole provider – a monopoly.

So why even taunt me like that? Reminds me of when Henry Ford starting making the Model T and offered consumers the choice of any color “so long as it is black.”

3. They Waste Money They Could Be Giving Back To Their Customers

I very often see commercials for APS on my television. Everyone knows how expensive television commercials are. They do other advertising besides all of which is ironic due to the fact that most of the areas they supply electricity to, they are the sole provider.

I completely understand why companies have marketing budgets and advertise – because there is competition. However, in APS’s situation, the only competition they have, at least where I live is NOBODY. There is of course another major electrical provider in the Valley – SRP, but as far as I understand, APS has their power grids and SRP has theirs . So where is the choice? And what is the purpose of wasting tens of thousands if not millions of dollars on ad spend when people HAVE TO use their service? It’s pure stupidity and waste , all of which are passed on to the consumer.

So what can I do about this? Nothing really.

I am starting to think very seriously about solar power and may be exploring how I can outfit this home so that it is completely powered by the sun. If not this one, certainly the next. I do live in the desert so why not take advantage of natural energy as opposed to making a company like APS richer and richer.

In the meantime, APS – you suck, not only for wasting money on advertising, money that could be put back in our pockets in the form of savings, and not only for lying to us that we can choose another provider when the exact opposite is true but most of all for sticking us with just about every bogus add-on fee you can get away with.

{ 49 comments }

Previous post:

Next post: