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.

Related: Looking For a Realtor With a Low Commission? Hungry Agents Can Help.

{ 49 comments }

Brian November 28, 2010 at 1:39 am

How about APS wasting even more money by providing their employees with a free truck to use 24 hours a day? That’s more money out of our pockets we shouldn’t have to pay for. Worse, I have to watch it first hand, since a neighbor works for APS, and regularly uses his APS truck for personal use. Hope they all rot in hell.

Johnny October 27, 2010 at 6:19 am

I just filed another payment extension with APS because I received a shut off warning. I get shut off warnings every two weeks or so from APS because I am not just going to fork out a thousand dollars to APS to get my bill caught up. I owe 400 dollars with the current bill being 300 dollars.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the high rates if I knew it was literally that expensive to generate electricity. The thing that bothers me the most about APS is the fact that they have no problem shoving it in your face at how much profit they make off of their monopoly. APS owns several large buildings, has sky boxes at the ball park, advertises on television and all over the valley as if they were a cell phone company, has pet projects that are completely worthless. How is it even legal with what this monopolistic company is even doing??? APS generates a profit and uses those profits to advertise and fund pet projects etc. How fair is it for a company like APS to generate profits this large when they have zero competition?

Times are tight now for everyone and for APS to be charging their customers these kind of rates is just un called for and down right despicable!

I have no problem with people making profits and becoming filthy rich but, APS has zero competition which means that you and I can not go elsewhere for our electricity, unless we decide to either move to the other side of the state or leave the state all together.

I don’t have a problem with APS employees or their CEO’s making a good living as long as our bill is affordable, practical and fair. I believe I speak for everyone regarding this.

Get the word out there. Address your concerns to everyone you know and let them know that you are fed up with these people. You will be surprised to find out how many people there are out there that just absolutely despise APS!

Derek October 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I just got into an argument with my wife because I thought it was her and the kids running up our bill since I literaly pay them 125 dollars a week with bill pay , thats a WEEK thinking I can maybe get ahead and still getting bills of $444.oo. I look at the charges and they get 100 dollars right off the bat just in service fees before I even look at the electric usage and our thermostat is set at 81 degrees. This is completely unacceptable!

Scott October 22, 2010 at 7:19 am

This is excellent information…thank you Johnny. I have submitted contact and endorsement information to each of them. I really hope there are enough of us to make a difference here. I’ve also forwarded this information to all of my friends and family here in Arizona.

Johnny October 22, 2010 at 2:53 am

Contact Gary Pierce or Brenda Burns. Both have voted against the recent rate increases from APS. I just received an email from Gary Pierce and it sounds like he will go to bat for us if he gets elected. But he will need Brenda Burns to get elected too.

Here are their websites: http://garypierceforarizona.com/

Brenda burns: http://brendaburns2010.com/

Scott October 21, 2010 at 5:48 am

Wow that is ridiculous…same house…same electricity usage…$500 difference….that right there should be a case to fight with…

Scott October 21, 2010 at 5:44 am

Johnny, please keep us all informed on what you find out. Putting some people in that office that will “…hold APS accountable for their large spending habits…” to at least lighten these “fees” and “charges” would be a great thing. I was just talking about this to a friend yesterday and we were thinking of the same thing but I couldn’t find any sites on any applicable candidates. I guess the next step would be to call them.

Johnny October 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I’m going to call some of the candidates who are running for corporation commission to see what their views are on APS. My dream is to elect a couple of commissioners who absolutely despise APS and who are wanting to go the extra mile and radically alter the way this scam of a corporation does business.

Since it is almost impossible to create a level playing field because APS has no competition, we need to find a way to make things fair for the consumer. This is why we must elect corporation commissioners who will hold APS accountable for their large spending habits that are directly passed on to their consumers.

No more lies, no more hard to understand charges get out there and vote and address your concerns.

Jacquelynn Paul October 20, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I’ll give you a better scenario. I live in a Salt River Project neighborhood, but APS leases the electric lines. I have to pay APS all year, but once a year SRP has to reimburse me the difference between what I paid APS and what I would have paid SRP for the same number of KWH. Each year I get a check for more than $500 from SRP. I’m happy to have the money back, but am angry all summer when I have to pay APS enormous rates for a house that isn’t all that large, and that I don’t keep very cool during the day (verging on uncomfortable).

Scott October 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

Yes, now that would be some great info here – who we all need to call, what petition we need to sign…this is out of control.

CJ Cornell October 8, 2010 at 10:05 am

I just opened my first bill and was shocked. I move from Tempe where I was paying about $85 for a summer electric bill from SRP to Scottsdale (with APS) – where it is $202 – and I was out of town for 7 of those days! What really gets me are all those petty extra charges – particularly the $40 “delivery” charge. Holy cow – I have never seen anything like this since I watched one of those movies where organized crime thugs come in to a retail store to collect “protection” charges. What’s next? A charge for us to pay for the gas for the APS employees to drive to and from work?
If anyone knows the right public official to call, petition to sign, or something – please let me know.

Otherwise, I’ll just dream of one day knowing the identity and address of some of the APS executives. No I would never think of harming or anything illegal. The dream is merely to work at their local supermarket, barber or starbucks – just for a day … where I can hand them a $150 bill for a cup of coffee – with a detailed receipt for all sorts of ridiculous charges. And of course threaten to impound their car (or detain them so they can’t work or eat) until they pay the bill. Either that, or offer them a place to wait – next to all the former Enron execs. Same scam – just a little more subtle.

sigh. ; )

Melody Kaufman October 6, 2010 at 3:28 am

I just opened up an email saying my bill is 299.00. I live in a 1000 sq ft townhome, I keep my ac at 79 degrees and only use electronics during the “off peak hours”. I am LIVID!! The delivery service charge alone is 67 dollars! I am a full time college student I cannot afford to pay bills like this. I lived in an apartment for a year before this and my bill was never more than 90 dollars, I was unhappy in the apartment setting so I moved into this townhome. I am tempted to move back into an apartment just because of the aps bill!!!!

Amanda H. September 26, 2010 at 7:10 am

exactly, they say you have to pay one amount, and what they would do to us is cut us off, so we would have to pay 100% what we owed to that date, THEN literally within 2 days, we got a NEW bill in the mail that they listed as being due within 10 days. In reality, they were charging us with a new bill every couple weeks, NOT just once a month. They are a HUGE scam and I will be HAPPY to testify in a court of law how much they screwed us over.

Johnny September 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

I woke up this morning and checked my email. My email had a message from APS showing my bill for the month of Sept saying I had a previous balance of 786.00 dollars. Last month I checked my bill and it said I only owed 475.00 dollars or so. APS never applied my previous payment!!!! I tried to call them and was put on hold for over 45 minutes!!! I finally hung up with them. Their billing is so screwed up and mismanaged, and the average consumer can not understand the billing. How is that if you pay them every month including any payment extensions there is always a previous balance?

I have had SRP for years and have never had an issue with them. SRP was 10 times cheaper and their bills were simple to read. APS needs to be reorganized and their CEO’S need to be investigated and brought up on charges!

Where is the Corporation Commissioner when we need them the most???
Answer: Probably out to lunch with the CEO of APS!

Nichole September 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I totally agree with this post. I’ve been venting about APS and their ridiculous fees since we moved to AZ in Oct 2008. Well, at first it wasn’t so bad… our bill in a 1 bdrm apt was never over $160 mth, even though, in CA, I’m pretty certain it was never over $90 a mth, ever. But then this summer comes around, and we’ve moved into a 1200 sq ft house, and while leaving the AC at 78* during on peak, and down to only 76* during off peak, our bills are between $250-300 a mth. Although partially it is the fault of a failing AC unit that was burning our electricity to the core when it wasn’t even working well. Either way, their Delivery Service Charge is the worst…. it seems to be charging us at a percentage, thus, the higher your electricity consumption, the higher the delivery charge… which, I really believe can’t be legal. I don’t believe half the crap they charge us is legal, but I’ve been reading there hasn’t been any luck for anyone to sue this company and get them to be more efficient, or customer conscientious, or frankly, less bank robbing. Ever calculate your bill? Nearly 40-45% of it is actual fees and taxes. The most I can hope for is some lawyer gets wind of this, sues the crap out of APS, and a judge finds APS to be overcharging their customers, in which, all APS customers will get refunded at least a portion of the fees. I’m certainly hoping that day comes around.

dave September 3, 2010 at 9:40 am

I am new to AZ and got my first bill after turn on my service from APS, first month bill was about $120 and this fee is $30, almost 25%, is this real? My bill in CA was only $50.

Amanda August 23, 2010 at 10:42 pm

They try their hardest to make it so you can’t pay it. They are counting on it.

mike August 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

let all now pay our bill then what will they do

Amanda August 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Don’t worry, APS will in NO way work with you, no matter WHAT your situation.
They do not give a DAMN about anyone, and are the biggest fraud of a utility company I have EVER Seen. Don’t let them shut your shit off? Even if you pay in full everything owing to date (Yes they will make you), they won’t even turn your shit on until the following business day…. WHO does that??? Just APS. We are moving out of our nice home we have rented for over a year solely to escape from this horrible, horrible company.

Danielle Hull July 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Leslie an Energy Management Computer simply monitors all energy used and wisely manages that energy so that you pay the lowest price for it. It provides maximum efficiency for electric power use..

It is rather hard to explain it all in email so click on my name and look at the site. Then call me I am happy to explain everything my number is on my post. The main point is if you have this you use your power with maximum efficiency so you pay less for what you use. if we chat I can email you my bill as well as others so you can see the numbers for yourself. You can also look at the site under FAQ and the first link is bills and letters from customers.

Thanks!
Dani

leslie July 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

What is a demand computer? can you go into more details.

Mindi July 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Holy Sh@*t!!! I just got my first APS electric bill…almost $400!!! I just moved in to a small 2 bedroom condo from a larger home in the Islands…My SRP bill was never over $180…Now, smaller place and APS, almost $400!! I have no idea how I am going to be able to pay this….just coming out of a bad breakup and left to foot the bill for everything….UGH!!! Anyway, researching my options and got a few good ones here…THANKS!!!

Danielle Hull July 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

David,

I could not agree more!! The long list of charges and they just keep adding more and more. I wanted APS off my payroll so bad I made it my mission to pay them less. I started to research everything from solar to windows to sun screens and I have to say I found it!! I placed a demand computer on my house and now my monthly bills are from 25-40% less than before!! It sounds crazy I know but it is true I want to go to every homeowner that has APS and tell them they HAVE to have this. July 2009 I kept my house at 80 degrees because I feared my power bill. My mother and kids are in my house all day and were not happy about the 80 but I could not pay to keep it cooler. This July 2010 I keep my house at 70 degrees and I paid $170 less!! WHAT… I know it is amazing! The way I am saving money and living a more comfortable life is a dream come true to an Arizona Native. I have since gone back to Advanced Home Systems who sold me the demand computer and become their biggest advocate!!

Every Arizona resident needs a demand computer to live at any temperature they want without fearing the power bill!! David you or anyone can email me and I will be happy to show you my power bills!! The proof is in the number! Email or call me and I would be happy to explain how easy this is. You can also look on their site the number on there will reach Eric and he is very helpful as well!! I know it sounds too good to be true but you better take a look because APS counts on you being skeptical and keeping them on your payroll!!

Danielle
602.758.0220
Daniellehull09@gmail.com
Cheaperutilitybill.com

Dylan Baxter May 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

David,
Thank you for sharing your APS experience. I found your site while searching for a forum to vent my latest billing fiasco. Reading some of the comments, I realize I have nothing new to add. ‘Just the same old abusive, wasteful, monopolistic APS.

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