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Thousands of APS customers get alert during proposed peak power hour change

(Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
LISTEN: Thousands of APS customers get alert during proposed peak power hour change

PHOENIX — A call alerting Arizona Public Service customers of an upcoming peak day went out to roughly 47,000 randomly-selected customers throughout the Valley this week.

“Tuesday, Aug. 30, is a peak day, from 3-8 p.m.,” the message said. “After the peak day is over, we’ll follow up and let you know how efficient you were.”

Some received the alerts via e-mail.

The alerts are part of a new campaign to test customer response. According to Jim Wontor, manager of the energy efficiency programs at APS, the program is strictly voluntary and anyone can opt out.

“We’re asking some of our customers to reduce their energy use during a short period of time,” he said, adding that time is typically when APS’ system sees the highest usage.

There will be no penalty or impact on their bill for customers who do not participate, explained Wontor.

The peak time mentioned in the recording is the new time frame APS proposed for peak hours. Currently, customers are charged a higher rate for electricity between noon and 7 p.m. weekdays. The utility wants to move those hours to the aforementioned 3-8 p.m. slot.

Weekends would still remain off-peak periods.

APS also wants to increase rates for energy use 7.96 percent for residential customers and between 0.4 and 6.14 percent for businesses.

The company considered the changes necessary to allow for a cleaner, stronger and smarter system to meet customers’ changing needs.

Other parts of the proposal include ending buyback plans it said don’t fairly cover the cost of providing power to homes with solar panels beginning in mid-2017. Existing rooftop solar customers would be exempted from the change.

The proposed changes were filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission. If approved, the new rates would go in effect July 1, 2017.

Meanwhile, APS plans to continue sending out at least four more alerts like the one in the recording, encouraging customers to shift or stagger appliance use outside of the time window.

“We have to be able to meet the demand for electricity during those times and so we’re trying this program to see how customers will respond, which will help us plan for how we’re going to meet the energy needs of our customers in the future,” Wontor said.

Customers can opt out of the alerts by following the steps on the recording.

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