UPDATE: SRP rate hike off the table until at least May

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TEMPE (AP) - The Salt River Project's board of directors has voted to defer any electricity rate increase until at least May after numerous customer complaints about a proposed 8.8 percent increase.

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SRP rate hike off the table...for now - SRP's proposed rate increase is off the table, at least temporarily.

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At a special meeting Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to approve a series of recommendations from SRP's management that will have the effect of keeping rates steady until next year if the various parts are given final approval in October.

SRP's management in July had proposed the 8.8 percent increase, saying the hike was needed to cover the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Springerville and other operating expenses.

Under the rate schedule approved Tuesday, SRP would go ahead with a 2.1 percent increase for renewable energy and other mandated programs on Nov. 1 but it'll be offset by a decrease in the price of natural gas used to run the project's fossil-fuel power plants.

The third and largest portion of the rate proposal -- an 11.4 percent increase in the base rate -- would be deferred for further study under a separate ratemaking process next year.