Decision on interim EPCOR rates expected in March

The Arizona Corporation Commission met February 20-21, 2019 in order for EPCOR Water ("the company") and all parties involved in the Interim Rate Case to present their positions to Administrative Law Judge, Belinda Martin. On February 21, Anthem Community Council Director of Public Affairs Kristi Northcutt, who represented Anthem in this interim case, delivered the following closing statement to Martin, and to Commissioner Andy Tobin, who also was in attendance at the hearing.

"Judge Martin, Commissioner Tobin - good morning. The community of Anthem has been paying among the highest rates of any of EPCOR’s water districts for a very long time. Since the 09-0343 case, Anthem has advocated for consistent, consolidated rates for water, to no avail. We are very concerned that there is no hope for any meaningful rate relief without some form of consolidation, only the prospect of more and more rate shock.

When it comes to our rates, our ratepayers feel like we’ve been dragged through the mud, with the threat of a 59% increase in our rates under 17-0257, and then the indecision of that case leading us down the path of interim rates, which the company filed showing a 36% increase for the 'typical' Anthem customer.

The dollar amount of the INCREASE to our ratepayers in the company’s interim application is almost equal to the rate that Sun City ratepayers currently pay in total. The increase is second only to what Willow Valley will experience. The gap of $42.30 that it creates between Anthem and Sun City is more than five of the districts’ total rates. The company’s proposed increase for Anthem is double that of the increase of six of the districts. [Commission] Staff’s recommendation of a flat, fixed surcharge reduces the gap minimally, and RUCO’s* floor-to-ceiling methodology reduces the gap yet a little further. But at the end of the day, the question remains as to whether interim rates are necessary at all.

The company has stated that they intend to wait and use 2019 as a test year for their next permanent case, putting the case well into 2021. That means that if approved by the Commission, interim rates could be in effect for more than two years. That’s two MORE years of fear for our residents about how high their rates will spike without any hope of relief.

We ask that you take to heart the comment from Commissioner Tobin from the January 25, 2019 Open Meeting that it is time to 'protect the consumer.'

The interim rate designs as presented do NOT protect the Anthem consumer; in fact they make the situation worse for the Anthem consumer and several other districts, with no light at the end of the tunnel for a permanent rate case or relief for Anthem’s shocking and always-climbing rates.

In our response to EPCOR’s application for interim rates, we offered a compromise interim solution, based on evidence in the case and the calculations in the Recommended Opinion and Order for [case] 17-0257. We respectfully ask that the Commission seriously consider this compromise, as it does much more to 'protect our consumers' than any of the alternatives that have been offered.

Please consider what is best for our ratepayers. The health of EPCOR is strong, and there is no emergency that necessitates such an outrageous increase to our district. Transferring the burden of this case’s indecision to ratepayers on an interim basis – especially at rates that are this high and that produce rate shock for our residents – is not in the best interest of the consumer. Thank you."

Next Steps
The judge indicated that she will produce a Recommended Opinion and Order (ROO) no later than March 14, 2019 regarding the interim rates application. A tentative date of March 28 has been set for the Commission to hear the case in open session. Review the docketed documents in this case.

Current rates for Anthem EPCOR customers (east of I-17) remain the same until the Commission votes on this case. 

File a Public Comment

  • Visit the Arizona Corporation Commission website.
  • For Company Name, type EPCOR Water Arizona Inc
  • For Docket Number, type WS-01303A-19-0011
  • State your opinion; it should be about the interim rate application/rates ONLY (not consolidation or other proposals).

*RUCO = Residential Utilities Consumer Office